London Junk Skyline

This Challenge has now finished, but you can still do it for fun, or why not check out our next Junkitecture Challenge: Dream Home?


What is your favourite building in London? Is it the Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral, The London Eye, The ‘Gherkin’... or maybe you have a favourite building near where you live? We want your help in creating the London skyline using junk material!


Recreate your favourite building in London out of anything you have in your recycling bin...




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Video Tutorial




Step 1: Gathering Junk


Work as a family to have a really good look in your recycling bin, bag or box. What could you use to build your masterpiece? Look out for: Cereal boxes (and inside bag), Egg boxes, Juice cartons / bottles, Toilet/kitchen paper/tinfoil rolls, milk bottles, Food trays, Bubble wrap, Soap dispensers, Scrap paper/Newspapers/Magazines, Paper/ plastic cups etc.


N.B. Please be careful with sharp edges, and make sure food trays and bottles are clean for you to work with.


Other materials that you could use that you might have lying around your home (not essential): String, Wire, Elastic bands, Paperclips, cocktail sticks, bamboo bbq sticks, Scrap fabric, etc.


Step 2: Warm up exercise


What you’ll need: Your collected junk and other materials, scrap paper and pencils and/or pens (colouring pencils, Felt-tips, biros etc)


— Place all your found junk objects on a table or the floor

— ALL look closely at this group of objects for various shapes

— ALL sketch draw the shapes you see

— ALL try drawing the outline of one or more of the objects, trying not to take your pen of the paper.


Step 3: Transform your junk into a building


What you’ll need: Your collected junk, other materials, sketches, scrap paper, pens and access to the internet.


— List all the shapes (2D & 3D) that you see in your junk materials and sketches.

— Do these shapes remind you of any London buildings? Or shapes found in certain buildings?

— Take a look at Open House London’s website here for 800 examples of London buildings.

— Now DECIDE on which London Building you’re going to make a model of!


Step 4: Make your Model


What you’ll need: Your junk material, and any other materials found, scissors, sticky tape, glue. Also hole puncher, stapler (not essential).


Before making look at:

— Model Making tips and techniques below

— Watch our video of making ‘junkitecture’!

— Now it’s time to start making!

— Timings: Between 2 hours to 2 days!

— Depending on the model making techiques you use and size of your model.


Step 5: Sketch and Photograph your model


What you’ll need: scrap paper, pencils and / or pens, mobile phone camera.


Once you’ve finished your model:

—  ALL sketch your model and label key features (eg materials and/or structure of the building, name of building, etc)

— Photograph your sketches and model – see below for help



Model Making Tips



1. Place the junk you want to wrap in the middle of the scrap paper.

2. Fold around the junk so it is all covered. 

3. Fold and tape the side, top and bottom.

This technique can be used to make building blocks.



1. Using a sheet of card, draw out a wide spiral shape and cut out.

2. Stretch out the spiral and glue the ends to other structures at different levels either horizontally or vertically. 

This technique can be used to make ramps.

Paper mache


1. Mix one part sieved flour, one part water with a wooden spoon in a big bowl until you get a thick glue-like consistency. 

2. Choose your mould and smear a small amount of vaseline to surface.

3. Cut strips of newspaper, paint them with glue on both sides and paste to mould. Let each layer dry before adding the next. 

Folding Card

Folding Card

1. Measure a 2/3cm section of the card with a ruler, mark with a pencil and fold.

2. Holding at a 90-degree angle, use glue on the underside of the section and fix to your model base. 

This technique can be used to make internal or external walls.



1. Draw the net pattern on your card/paper.

2. Cut around the lines carefully.

3. Fold together, can glue the edges if you want.

This can be used to make cubes, cuboids, prisms etc... play around with the different shapes!

Rolling card or paper

Rolling Card2

1. Choose size and length of paper or card.

2. Roll into a tight tube and tape along the side.

3. Measuring a small length up the side of the tube, snip several slots along the end and push out to make the base.

This technique can be used as columns.

Card and paper slot joints


1. Cut squares of card/paper to size.

2. Measure through the middle equal lengths, and cut these out. Slot two pieces together.

Good for modular designs – elements that can be added together continuously.

Milk Bottles

Milk Bottles2

1. Cut through the middle and around the handle. 

2. Save the lid and other panels of plastic to build other parts of your model.

This technique can be used to make windows, pipes, or rolled up to make columns.



1. Carefully pierce holes in the corners of the pieces of card/paper.

2. Feed the straws through them. You can add as many floors as you can fit!

This technique can be used to make a simple structure of a building.

Egg boxes


1. Cut into the egg box and around the middle spikes and internal egg holder pieces.

2. You could also use the box lid for your model too.

The technique can be used for the top of roofs or facades.

Paper and plastic cups


1. Cut around the cup into as many pieces as you want.

2. Make sure to save all the pieces for different parts of your buildings!

This technique can be used for windows, walls and curved roofs. 



1. Cut the pieces of paper/card in horizontal and vertical directions.

2. Weave them in and out of eachother or layer them on top of eachother.

3. Glue the edges down to make it secure.

This technique can be used for building facades (the front of the building).

Think Like An Architect... things to think about!


What is a building used for? Is it used to: 

• live in? (a home) 

• work in? (an office) 

• learn in? (a school) 

• play sports in? (a stadium) 

• pray in? (a church, a mosque, a temple) 



Materials are used to make buildings - both the structure and inside and outside surfaces. Materials can be made from naturally occurring substances or man-made products. 

Natural material examples: timber (wood), stone, mud man-made material examples: concrete, bricks, steel, glass. Many of these use a mixture of natural and synthetic substances. 



How big is your chosen building compared to the others close to it? Think how big am I compared to a door, to my home? 



Inside of buildings are lit up by a combination of natural and artificial light. 

Natural Light: Does sunlight come into the building? Are there lots of windows? Are there roof lights? 

Artificial Light: Can you see lots of lightbulbs through the windows? 



How does the building stand up? Think about what holds up the roof? 

Can you see the structure? Clues: does it have steel or timber posts (columns) or beams visible? 




Scale drawings and models

It’s impossible to draw buildings at their real size on paper! Architects, therefore, need to scale down their drawings of buildings, furniture and people to fit on paper. Builders and architects use special scale rulers to measure from scale drawings. 

Think ‘Honey I shrunk the Kids’! Or look at your toy cars and dolls, which are scaled-down by a ratio.

Photographing your work

Photographing your work

Photographing your models can be approached in a number of creative ways. Here’s a few tips to help you take more professional images at home. You can use any camera you have available - the example images were taken using an iPhone 6S.



It is important to have a clear background in your images, to avoid distractions from your model. Plain card works well (one sheet on the surface, one behind the model). A white model will stand out well against a dark or colourful background, or white on white will give a minimalist look. Glossy surfaces can reflect your model.

Camera Angles

Try using different angles to showcase different elements of your model. You can move 360 degrees around your model, and if you raise it on top of some books or a box, allows you to look up from a lower angle. If you’re using a phone or small camera, then you can get right up close to the model.


To give an idea of scale in your models, you can add recognisable figures, such as people or cars. If using human figures, like lego figures, think about how they interact with spaces in the model. A clear idea of scale is useful for architectural models, but for more abstract work it may be more interesting if the scale is unclear, and the viewer tries to work it out themselves.



For a natural look, you can use sunlight by itself to light your model. However this leaves strong shadows, so if you want more even light and detail throughout the image, then you can use a second source of light from the other side to add light to the darker areas. This could be a desk lamp or phone flashlight, for example. 



This activity was created by Celebrating Architecture in partnership with Open City.

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Since launching at the RCA in 2018, and over the last two summers,  Celebrating Architecture has worked with 175 young people from schools across London. Through our Pavilion workshop days these students (aged 9-18 years and from all backgrounds) have discovered, experienced and made architecture in cultural environments, alongside leading London Architects.

This creative and aspirational learning initiative is led by architecture educators, Neil Pinder and Venetia Wolfenden, with the key aim to bring diversity into the profession, so that our future built environments reflect the societies that they are designed for. We are also determined to promote the importance of creative subjects in state schools to ensure continuation of a diverse pipeline of talent to the profession.