Building with Data: Architectural Models as Inspiration for Data Physicalization

Carmen Hull , Wesley Willett



In this paper we analyze the role of physical scale models in the architectural design process and apply insights from architecture for the creation and use of data physicalizations. Based on a survey of the architecture literature on model making and ten interviews with practicing architects, we describe the role of physical models as a tool for exploration and communication. From these observations, we identify trends in the use of physical models in architecture, which have the potential to inform the design of data physicalizations. We identify four functions of architectural modeling that can be directly adapted for use in the process of building rich data models. Finally, we discuss how the visualization community can apply observations from architecture to the design of new data physicalizations.

Keywords:  Design ProcessArchitectural ModelsData PhysicalizationEmbodied InteractionData Visualization


Carmen Hull, Wesley WillettBuilding with Data: Architectural Models as Inspiration for Data PhysicalizationIn Proceedings of the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '17)ACM, New York, NY, USA  Page: 1-12.  DOI: