design for living in miniature (Feb, 1947)
design for living in miniature
BY RON ROMERO
Planning a new house? Town? School? Try it out first with made-to-scale plastic blocks!
THE building boom is on! Skyscrapers, air terminals, houses, churchesâ€”they’re sprouting like mushrooms. Each one is made entirely of plastic and is complete to the last detail in one hour. You can put up a whole city in an evening. Your living room rug will make an excellent site.
Yes, everything’s in miniature. But we’re not talking about toysâ€”though if you don’t have fun becoming architect-engineer overnight, you’re just an old scrooge and you can go sit in the corner and leer.
Made possible by tiny ingeniously designed pieces of building equipment and extremely simplified blueprints; these miniature buildings are intended as pre-views for anyone who wants to put up a building of practically any type. Architects can use them to show their clients exactly what their new homes are going to look like even before the ground is broken.
Home owners who want to renovate can make sure they are going to like the changes they intend to make. Industrialists can plan new factories, determining the exact location of machines and the amount of operating space that Will be required by the workers. Housing organizations can design slum-clearance projects and model communities. Municipal governments can organize the construction of public buildings and work out questions of zoning, traffic, and similar community problems.
Manufactured by the Du Page Plastics Company, of Chicago, the equipment for these miniature structures is put out in 10 different sized building sets ranging in price from $4 to $27.50, and having anywhere from 400 to 8,500 pieces. Each set carries a number of simplified building plans from which it is possible to build, from even the smallest set, as many as three or four different kinds of homes, and from the larger sets, as many as 20 different types of buildings.
The truly great value of these sets, however, is that instead of rigidly following the building plans in every detail, a builder can give free rein to his fancy, and can at any time change or improve on the plans in any way that he sees fit. Or if he wants to, he can go the whole hog, abandon the plans entirely, and just let his own imagination dictate precisely the kind of building he is going to construct. If he does this, it is esti-mated that from one of the larger sets, a builder can turn as many as 100 different structures of every shape, form, and size.
In setting out to put up a miniature building, the builder starts with a composition base-board which is perforated with tiny holes set fairly close together. Into these holes he inserts a number of slender wooden poles, using taller poles where he wants a wall to be high, shorter poles where the wall is to be low, and leaving spaces between them where he eventually intends to place his windows and doors. Using tiny vinylite plastic bricks, each having two holes, the builder can begin his walls. Merely by sliding one brick down on top of another, he can quickly raise a wall to any height he desires.
By means of small dowels which can be inserted into bricks expressly designed for the purpose! the builder can attach his doors, steps, window boxes, chimneys, shutters, and windowsâ€”the latter being composed of bricks made of clear transparent plastic. To erect a conventional slanting roof, the builder uses tiny ceiling beams, the lower ends of which are held in position by means of flat “gutter-type” bricks which are placed at the tops of the walls and which have small slots into which the beam-ends fit. To secure the beams at their apex, the builder uses a ridge pole. From here the builder can quickly proceed to affix his shingles, which are held in place by notches in the ceiling beams, and prestoâ€”another miniature house is built.
But even then his home isn’t finished, for no home is complete until the grounds have been properly landscaped. For this purpose each building set carries a small instruction booklet which shows how any number of odds and ends can be used to landscape a miniature plot. For instance, a piece of old toweling, dyed green and mowed with a pair of scissors to give it that neat, close-cropped look, makes a handsome lawn.
Pieces of old sponge rubber, also dyed green, can easily be shaped with scissors into trim-looking hedges and shrubbery. Toothpicks wired or glued together make excellent lattice work for the garden or for a grape arbor. A strip of coarse sandpaper makes a realistic gravel walk. A concave button yanked off last year’s – overcoat can be painted and then mounted on a tiny round stick to make a convincing birdbath. Small, irregular, flat stones can be delicately stained and jig-sawed together for attractive flagstone paths.
Twigs, weeds, and dyed wood shavings glued together make fine trees. A few stones, pebbles, and moss around a small mirror, and your miniature house boasts a rock garden with a tiny pool. And finally, after you’ve had a good view of what your home is going to look like in the summer, you can spray the whole thing with soap Hakes and artificial snow to see just what it is going to look like in the winter.
Front these building sets almost any type of private home can be constructed â€”a summer Cape-Cod home, a conventional one or two-story house, a home designed for the city, or an ultra-modern country home with curved glass walls and a top-floor solarium. Model railroaders can have a field day, too.