Zona Alfa Office

Club member John L takes us through the complete build of his recent office block.

This post is in response from a fellow club member regarding the buildings I’ve made for Zona Alfa, a sort of ‘How to’ guide. I wouldn’t profess to be a good terrain builder, but this method worked for me.

First check out photos on the internet for the type of building you want to use then draw the plan on A4. If you are going to use a storage box, check the plan against this allowing sufficient spacing around the building to get it out of the box. Simple enough but if you add on a detail later, it can prove frustrating! Plan how many floors you are going to have and if you want to be able to take it apart later (I did as I wanted the space inside the building shell to add another building).
In 28mm I work on 5mm to a foot scale and allow 35 – 40mm for door heights, depending on type of building. Door widths 15 – 20mm. Windows are 15 – 20mm from ground level, adjust until it looks right.

5mm Foam board – Hobbycraft
Mounting Board – Hobbycraft
Lolly sticks – Hobbycraft
Clear plastic (optional for windows, I used food packaging material)
Cereal box cardboard
White card A4 pack from ASDA
Fine sand
Builders sand
Snap off large and small knives – B&Q
Resin W PVA glue
Bulk PVA Glue – B&Q
Set square
Steel ruler

Step 1
Cut out the base from mounting board. This needs to fit on the box if using and should include a 5mm border around the building. It’s probably better to radius the corners of the base to prevent a ‘dog eared’ look.

Step 2
Draw out the walls onto foamboard, taking into account the joins at the corners. I used simple lap joints so the long walls were 10mm shorter than the plan, use a set square to make sure all is square. Mark the sections you want to cut out so that you don’t remove the wrong bit!. I then take a pin and push through to the reverse side of the foam board.

Step 3
When cutting foam board I use the large snap off knife and steel rule, making a shallow cut. If you try a deep cut, the foam will tear. It’s a material that will blunt your knife blade quickly so snap off blades are ideal. I use the smaller knife to cut out the window openings. To get a clean finish, flip over the foam board and check the backing of the foam board is cut through, you can use the pin holes as a guide. By keeping the blade vertical against the rule, you should get a clean finish.

Step 4
Once the wall panels are cut out, I added detailing from strips of mounting board to the front faces. On the interior faces, I added strips of foam board which would be supports for the roof and first floors. I then created slots for the cross walls.

Step 5
To assemble the building, I used Resin W PVA. This is quick drying which helps prevent the whole building collapsing as it’s drying. Use the set square to check all is square.

Step 6
At this point, I decided to add a staircase (should have been in the original plan!). I used 1cm x 2cm pieces of foam board to build the spine and then 1 cm strips to build the supports. Then used lolly sticks to add the treads.

Step 7
I decided to add broken windows to the building. To do this I added 3mm strips of cereal pack card as the outside frame for each window. This was the most time consuming bit but now the basic building was done.

Step 8
To achieve the concrete look, I painted the exterior with a thin layer of PVA and then sprinkled fine sand over this. If a bit is missed, it’s better to let the whole thing dry before touching up. It’s important to have the cross walls in place for this stage as the PVA will cause the foam board to bow in at the centre. For the base, I used Builders sand which is courser. When the whole thing is dry, I painted the base using acrylics – dark brown/black followed by a light dry brush. For the walls I started with a base coat of Wilko Mineral Stone, then mixed this with Wilko Biscuit Crunch to paint over everything except the recesses. I’d picked this up from Terrain Tutor. From the same channel, I’d seen tips on applying washes to buildings, by prewetting the surface first so I added a dark wash to the recesses and a Sage Green wash to the lower panels to the ground for Algae. I then added brown stain on some sections and I think this worked well. I then painted the interior using acrylics.

Step 9
I cut the windows from plastic by cellotaping the plastic to my cutting board, then cutting out strips which I gave a jagged edge. These were secured by 2mm strips of cereal card on the inside of the windows. Another long job, when finished. I used a dab of superglue in the corners to secure the panes in place.

Step 10
To finish, I made the door adding part of a cable tie for the lock. I added graffiti and then made up some signs to hang over the doorway. These can be changed as required.