Some of the biggest collections of model buildings are contained in
what used to be thought of as model villages but are now more commonly
known as 'miniature parks'. That is, parks containing miniature buildings
rather than small scale representations of parks. I have long been a fan.
Since I now spend much of my time in the Netherlands, let me begin
with the Madurodam park located in Den Haag. Which I love. It entrances
adults as well as children and spans the whole spectrum from traditional
Dutch farmhouses to the Rotterdam Docks, Schiphol airport and the tourist
highlights of Amsterdam and elsewhere, all modelled at 1/25 scale.
One of their slogans is 'Holland in an hour'. It was opened in 1952.
The picture at the head of the article is just one of the palaces on display.
A few years ago I would have begun this article with
Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire or the model village at
Bourton on the Water.
Which are very different. Both focus on small domestic subjects.
I mention those two for the purely
personal reason that they were part of my daughters' childhood.
And therefore part of my life. I suspect we went to them as much
for my pleasure as theirs.
Both have been in existence for a long time. The model at
the Old New Inn (yes really) opened on Coronation Day
in 1937 and Bekonscot in 1929. It claims to be the world’s
oldest and original model village.
The village at Bourton, in particular,
seeks to recreate the real
village in which it sits but at 1/9th the size and using the local
Cotswold stone for the models. I don't know if the scale is unique
but it is certainly unusual.
My enthusiasm for miniature buildings is just a hobby. It probably
is for you too, though you may be involved in the production and
operation of one of the many parks, towns and villages. In which case
you know much more than I do. If you want to contribute some of
that knowledge please do write to me at
But for some it is a much more serious matter. Esan Osmanoglu of
the Department of Architecture at the University of Istanbul wrote
his thesis about the Turkish park 'Miniaturk'. This is the abstract
AN ARCHITECTURAL STUDY ON MINIATURE PARKS AND MINIATURE MODELS: MINIATURK
This thesis is an architectural study surveying on miniature parks and miniature
models exhibited in them and particularly focuses on Miniaturk - the first miniature
park of Turkey- located in Istanbul. It is established as an environment containing
a group of miniature models of buildings and landscapes, which display the variety,
and richness of the cultural tradition of the previous and contemporary Anatolian
civilizations, and especially Ottoman grandeur. In this study, it is argued that
Miniaturk stands as a hybrid category between a museum, a public park and entertainment
centre. Miniaturk is also conceived as an architectural environment providing a
possible ground to discuss the conceptions, misconceptions and presuppositions
about architecture in the popular realm and in the professional and disciplinary
framework. Thereby, Miniaturk is investigated through the processes of its production
including the initial design idea and all the stages of its construction.
iv This study also tries to discuss the miniature models from different points of view.
Whether they are considered as tools of architectural representation or not by the
professionals, the popularity and the communicative advantage of these models can be
used to arouse interest in the cultural and historical heritage as well as the
contemporary architecture. The daily life of man on the street is strictly
connected with architecture; therefore Miniaturk requires recognition as an
environment for realization of these connections and relations.
Really? I'm afraid there is something about academic theses that invites ridicule. Mr Osmangulu
'argues' that Miniaturk "stands as a hybrid category between a museum, a public
park and entertainment centre". I don't think anyone is going to disagree too
much with that proposition though I do think that "an exhibition of models"
might belong somewhere in that list. But the idea that it "is also conceived
as an architectural environment providing a possible ground to discuss the
conceptions, misconceptions and presuppositions about architecture in the
popular realm and in the professional and disciplinary framework" seems to me
to over complicate what is going on.