The track plans I’ve been posting as layout ideas I’ve been considering have often featured nicely flowing benchwork designs. I’ve been trying to design a layout with a pleasant track-to-scenery ratio but that also encourage the trackwork itself to determine the shape of the board it rests on.
Years ago I came across photos of the Totternhoe Mineral Railway exhibition layout and instantly “fell in love” with their approach to layout design and the space it occupies. In line with what I’ve been trying to explain above, it’s builders determined the arrangement of track and scenic elements within the overall scene and then wrapped beautifully flowing benchwork around the whole thing. Trying to make such a free-flowing design structurally stable would be very difficult for a layout that stays home and even more so for one that is expected to be portable and to attend exhibitions. To respond to those practicle demands they developed a very innovative approach that feels so beautifully architectural in it’s very nature and just so elegant: They perched their beautifully flowing scenes on top of regular, rectangular, frames and then painted everything flat black. The layout is carefully lit to focus the lighting on the scenes. In many ways the presentation style draws a lot from theatre design and it just works so well. The lighting focusses the viewer’s attention squarely on the layout itself without any distraction away from the show. Furthermore, the whole layout, not just the track, appears to meander through it’s environment. A viewer seeing the layout for the first time can instantly relate to it and the builder’s intentions with little explanation and that’s the essence of good design.
Pictures tell a story so much better and I found a nice collection of photos of this layout on the Gn15 (minimum gauge modelling) forum:
While no where near as grand an empire as this example, it’s an approach I’ll be adopting for my own design.