Mystique & Magnificence in a 3D Architectural Model Workshop

A faithful replica of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. This was built in 1616 and still in use today.

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A faithful replica of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. This was built in 1616 and still in use today.

A faithful replica of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. This was built in 1616 and still in use today.

Entering Eric Tan’s architectural model workshop is like entering into a fantasy world of mystique and magnificence. All around the worktables are mosques, mosques and more mosques in various stages of completion. Next to these sculptural pieces, the other models of flats, condominiums and urban planning projects seem to pale in comparison.

The reason for all this activity is that his company AnneSing Pte Ltd is preparing models for an Islamic museum in a nearby country that will open in a few months time. As part of the deal to feature his works, Ginkgo3D agreed not to publish any photographs of a complete model from his collection.

Details of a lamp and a 3D printed dome, before and after laser-engraving.

Details of a lamp and a 3D printed dome, before and after laser-engraving.

Elements of Masjid Nawabi were carefully recreated from photos trawled from the internet and the colours translated from screen to paint.

Elements of Masjid Nawabi were carefully recreated from photos trawled from the internet and the colours translated from screen to paint.

To achieve the fine details and maintain accuracy, Eric combines technology and craftsmanship in his productions. “Every project we do includes three components – laser cutting, engraving and 3D printing,” he said. Combining all these with exquisite detailing and colouring from his craftsmen, Eric runs the business with a sharp eye and precise instructions. His machines are the best German and Korean makes, no cheap knockoffs for him.

Part of his arsenal are three Moment 3D printers from Korea. True to his aim of keeping to the forefront of technology, AnneSing is one of the early adopters of 3D printing for architectural modeling in Singapore. The results of his investment are obvious – minarets, arches and screen details are expressed exquisitely in all the samples that he showed us.

Startled from their intense scrutiny of the 3D printing process, two modelmakers glare at the photographer for a second before returning to their work.

Startled from their intense scrutiny of the 3D printing process, two modelmakers glare at the photographer for a second before returning to their work.

Displaying samples of minarets and domes, Eric added, “3D printing can make what is not easily made by hand, and if you see a beautiful minaret here with fine details, it is not one piece but a combination of pieces joined together.

“Look – you will not see any seams or joints in my model. My craftsmen add in the details by hand or engraving or spray-painting, so it all adds up together to make a beautiful component of the model.”

Another challenge to his work for the upcoming Islamic museum is that a number of the mosques that he is building in miniature are so old, there are no surviving plans or drawings of the buildings. Add that to the fact that some mosques are in locations that do not permit entry, Eric had to think up ingenious ways of reproducing these religious masterpieces in a different manner.

Eric points to a detail of an iconic building in Southeast Asia - the result of technology and handicraft.

Eric points to a detail of an iconic building in Southeast Asia – the result of technology and handicraft.

Exceptional detail is seen on the model of the Yellow Mosque, down to the texture of the tiles on the dome and the elements of a minaret no thicker than a slim toothpick.

Exceptional detail is seen on the model of the Yellow Mosque, down to the texture of the tiles on the dome and the elements of a minaret no thicker than a slim toothpick.

For that, he had to turn to the internet, trawling through thousands of photographs until he could identify as much detail as he could from each photograph. Then, by a meticulous reproduction, he creates a 3D miniature of each mosque and translates the luminescent colours of the screen into the reflective colours of printing until there is a perfect match.

“We even reproduced the calligraphy on the covers of the Kaaba in Mecca,” he quipped. “Do you know the covers are changed very frequently?”

So what’s next for this intrepid modelmaker-businessman? “Well, we pitched for this museum contract and won, and soon we will be delivering a quality project as promised. I look forward to building more such challenging projects, perhaps in the Middle East,” Eric said.

“What I am looking for is to bring my business forward; we cannot be seen to be just another model-maker or part of a sunset industry. This is where technology, craftsmanship and 3D printing comes in.”

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AnneSing's craftsmen working on the model of a historic Spanish villa. They also build more maundane models such as condominiums, commercial buildings and public housing.

AnneSing’s craftsmen working on the model of a historic Spanish villa. They also build more mundane models such as condominiums, commercial buildings and public housing.

About AnneSing: The Modelmaker Who Could

AnneSing’s offerings include model-making, perspective-rendering, multimedia and may include print collaterals and website consultancy. From his experience in website designing, he thinks up the hashtags so clients’ websites can be easily found.

Coming from a printing background, Eric prides himself as a person to keeps to the forefront of trends. Wryly, he recalled his first business in website design in 1995, using an early version of Netscape. “We were too early in the market,” he said, “at a time when some people were not even aware what an email is.” Caught in the subsequent .com boom and bust, the business went under, and Eric had to sell.

His fortune took a turn for the better when he met his present-day Dutch partner and they started their architectural model making company AnneSing Pte Ltd. In the last ten years or so, this too became a very challenging business as rising costs and competition forced other similar firms to close down or move to a neighbouring country. Yet AnneSing perservered and built a reputation for good workmanship and reliability.

Some of his clients include CapitaLand, Lendlease, NUS, URA, JTC, The Fragrance Group, Keppel Land and P&T Architects. Eric likes to work with developers simply because “they know what they want, and they make up their minds quickly”. AnneSing’s largest model is a 14m long urban planning project in Jakarta “probably the largest such model in Indonesia,” he said.

Find out more about AnneSing at http://www.annesing.com.sg

The meticulous MD of AnneSing, Eric Tan (centre) is flanked on his right and left by Terry and Andrew from the Ginkgo3D team.

The meticulous MD of AnneSing, Eric Tan (centre) is flanked on his right and left by Terry and Andrew from the Ginkgo3D team.

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