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VCD Yr10 AOS1 Experimenting with models

Sketching in 3D?

Outcome 1

On completion of this unit the student should be able to;

  • Make an architectural model driven by a brief and demonstrates an understanding of the use of design elements and principles as they apply to form and environmental structures.

What you will do

The quest for sustainability is heating up. How much land do we not need to live? How many valuable resources from The Earth can we not use yet still be comfortable? Let's explore size and scale in efficient, ethical ways.

In this unit students learn how to 'sketch' in 3d. We will make models of tiny houses. The models will explore form in the same way sketching explores shape. We won't be making models of finished ideas. We will be using the model making process to visualise and evolve ideas for the rest of our course. Our models will be inspired by contemporary architectural practices.

In this unit you will create visualisation drawings and models and presentation drawings.

This unit is from the environmental design field.

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Model answer

A simple garden bungalow form.
A simple garden bungalow form.

Learning intentions

Learning intentions should be set at the commencement of each unit, then at regular intervals during the task.

Read through the content on this page. Discuss what you think could be learnt and form them into three 'learning intentions'.  Use sentences like, 'I will learn about making 3d drawings', or I will learn about 'media codes'.

Write your three learning intentions.

For advanced learning intentions, go with 3 different levels. 

  • 1 - What you will learn. (For example, the media code of camera describes the techniques camera operators use to record a scene)
  • 2 - How what you will learn can be used to create meaning or structure. (For example, camera techniques are combined with sound and/ or editing to create suspense).
  • 3 - How could your understanding of the learning be extended or related to other learnings. (For example, the use of camera has changed over the years and the invention of digital formats have allowed anyone to become cinema photographers)

Success criteria

Success criteria should be negotiated between students and their teacher. The class group agrees about what is successful completion of the task. Identification of success criteria is done at the commencement of each unit, then at regular intervals.

Now that you are familiar with what you will learn in this task, it's time to lock in how you will be able to demonstrate that you know it, or can do it. 

Write three success criteria, using sentences like the examples in the next column.

I will demonstrate that I have mastered the learning by;

  • 1 - I Can identify all of the camera techniques used in the selected clip.
  • 2 - I can use a camera to film clips in the ways I have identified.
  • 3 - I can explain how camera is combined with other codes to create meaning in a narrative.

Research and analysis


In this outcome students learn how to 'sketch' in 3d. We make models of architectural forms. The models will explore form in the same way sketching explores shape. We won't be making models of finished ideas. We will be using the model making process to visualise and evolve ideas for the rest of our project. Our models will be inspired by contemporary architectural practices.

In this outcome you will create visualisation drawings and models and presentation drawings.



Melbourne producer MarketCo is requiring a design for a tiny house that can be used for holiday makers or back yard second accommodation. 

The target audience for the house is young adult men and women living in urban areas. They are interested in contemporary style design and in saving the world's resources.

The purpose of this design will be to depict the building and serve as a guide for making plans and elevations (in your next task). 

The context will be in space poor locations like inner city.

The constraints and expectations are;

  • Maximum wall sizes; 6 x 3m;
  • Made from 3 different coloured or surfaced materials;
  • Inspired by 'deconstructed' form architecture

The presentation format for your work is a 3-dimensional model.

Two great resources

This is a real 'nano' house. It was made in 2018 by RAVC. It is designed by Peter Maddison. And, believe it or not it is 18.75 metres square inside. Your project is to design for 18 metres square. I think this proves you can do it. Click on the image to visit the page about the house.

Explore this amazing site from Small Change Design called 'XS'. See how they are adapting living in new, exciting and sustainable ways.

Research and analysis

In the research part of this task we will explore tiny houses and past examples and styles of architecture to fuel the aesthetics of our building.

1. What is a 'nano' house?

In space poor locations like big cities architects have begun to design tiny houses. You would be surprised just how small a house can be, yet still contain everything you need to live in comfort. Consider a caravan. They are small but comfortable. Recently it has become trendy to live in small spaces knowing that you are taking up less of the world's precious resources in construction, materials and land. In this section you are asked to research tiny houses, sometimes called 'Nano' houses. Take a look at the images below They are from the book 'XS Small Houses Big time' by Lisa Baker, 2016.

You will be able to get a sense of scale by seeing how big furniture or cars look in relation to the house plans.

Tiny houses


task 1

1.1 Research tiny houses

Collect images of tiny houses. Collect, print and stick in about 10 images of tiny houses into your visual diary.

Annotate one of each, describing the surface and how their surface communicates ideas.

2. Is beauty unity? Exploring modern architectural history

Architecture changed in a big way at the start of the 20th Century. This period was the beginning of 'modernism' a period where European artists began to experiment with abstract paintings made from colour, tone and line

When you look at Palazzo Strozzi 1538 (1), you see that the outside is covered with one kind of material. Prior to the 20th Century unity of surface and form was considered beautiful in architecture. This is known as an homogenous surface. This means the surface is all the same. It is wrapped in the same material. This gives the impression of strength and harmony. It is like a society where people are all thinking the same thing and having the same opinions.

During the late 19th Century there were immense changes in cities and societies. Artists and architects responded to this change with a new kind of design. Cities were vibrant, noisy, places where people were faced with speeding trams, busses, cars, reflections in windows, bright lights, advertising signs and newspaper headlines. One architect to respond in a new way was Gerrit Rietveld. He worked alongside a group of artists called DeStijl (The Style) in Holland. His first building design is called the Schroder House (2) and was built in 1924.

If you look at the images below you can see some examples of an homogenous surface on buildings in Melbourne. Below them are some examples of deconstructed surfaces in modern architecture. 

What is the house where you live like? Is the outside surface homogenous or deconstructed?


(1) Palazzo Strozzi, Florence completed 1538.
State Treasury, Melbourne. ( forum/viewtopic.php?t=435)
East Brighton house, Victoria. ( East_Brighton_house)
Melbourne Exhibition Building. 1880.
(2) Schroder House, Utrecht, Gerrit Reitveld. 1924.

Gerrit Reitveld, Red and Blue Chair, 1923. ( designers/gerrit-t-rietveld/cassina-red-and-blue-chair.html)

Denton, Corker and Marshall, Melbourne Museum, 2000. ( 2011/02/australia-melbourne.html)
Dan Webster Architecture, Malvern House.( au/malvern-project/ 3bd6g0litrmiac7apsglxgthd1ur62)

task 1

1.2 Research

Collect images of architecture. Collect 3 images that show a building with a homogeneous wall surface and 3 that have a deconstructed surface. Print and stick them into your visual diary.

Annotate one of each, describing the surface and how their surface communicates ideas.

Analysis task

As part of our course in Visual communication design we have to be able to look at and write about design. 

In this task you will write a short written report on one example of tiny house architecture.

  • In our report we will need to consider; the aesthetics,
  • the function,
  • the social cultural and environmental concerns of these structures.

Research 'Nano' houses. There are some links to sites for you to explore below. 

Write a report to explain why these tiny structures have been created. In your report answer the following questions.

  1. Collect on picture of a nano house that you like the look of. Describe the look (aesthetics) of the outside. Discuss the materials and colours used. Discuss it's relationship with its surroundings. Is it intended to blend in or stand out? Why and how does it?
  2. Find a plan or picture of an interior of a nano house and a picture or plan of a regular large house. Compare the use of space between the two kinds of house. What kind of spaces has the designer of the nano house eliminated to make something so small yet functional? What kind of spaces have they retained?
  3. How would a nano house work socially? Imagine your family living it a 20 square metre house? How would your life style have to change? How would this impact on you? What might you gain by living in such a small space?
  4. What are the environmental advantages of living small? Describe what can be gained by building small houses. 

Write your report in the 4 paragraphs shown above.

Weblinks for research: (Click on the images below).

My green Australia
Nano house Cool Hunting
Go Downsize
Earth 911

task 1

1.3 Analysis task

Complete the research and analysis task as described above. Submit this as required by your teacher.


Thinking in space

The main practical component of this task is to sketch ideas for our nano house. We will begin with a couple of drawings, then practise two more methods to show initial ideas. We will make a 2 dimensional collage and then a real 3 dimensional model. The main thing to remember in this task is you are not going to make your collage or model of a finished idea, but you are going to use these methods to generate new ideas. That's why I call this process 'sketching'.

Sketching 2d

Getting an idea and the role of scale

To begin this task we will start by sketching some plans of a small house. Part of the challenge is learning to draw so the proportions of things like a toilet, a bed or a table suit the proportions of your nano house. You will try several sketches of plans then work into three-dimensional drawings.


Hamlan Homes, Buckley 250.



Nano Rescue House, Inhabitat.


Collage task

Next let's 'sketch' ideas for our structure by making a collage to test textures and combine them to create interesting surface combinations.

One way to start is by making a collage with printed papers. Research and print natural and man made textures. This is kind of fun, because we get a chance to see how the textures and colours will go together quickly. We also get to play with 2d and 3d in shape.

Make a design that might test how a group of textures and colours work together. Cut some shapes flat and other shapes on angles to look 3d.


task 2

2.1 Assess scale

Look at the two house plans above. Note and discuss how different sized an object like a toilet or a bed looks in each plan?

Suggest a reason why they look different sizes?

2.2 Copy plans

Get a new sheet of A3 paper. With a pencil and ruler, copy the plan from Hamlyn Homes. Draw this plan on the left of your page.

Next, copy the plan of the Nano Rescue house - BUT -  keep the bed and the toilet the same size and watch how small the house needs to be!!

2.3 Start designing

Using your research as inspiration, make a design for a new nano house. Remember though, it's going to be about 6m x 3m tops.

2.4 Three-d it

Create few three-dimensional drawings of the building indicated in the plan you just made.

2.5 Collage

Google and print a few textures. Print them at A3. Share them with your friends.

Create a collage to represent a building form. Don't worry too much about representing doors and windows.

Next we move to working in 3 dimensions. You will use model making techniques to generate an idea for your house. In this task we focus on the outside of the structure. Don't worry too much about what might be happening inside at this stage.
Special restrictions:

1 - The maximum dimensions of the 'building' you design is 6m x 3m. This restriction is to ensure that the scale drawing (done in the next task) fits onto the sheet of paper allowed. Pace out this size on the floor of your classroom to see how it looks, see what you can fit inside it. This is really small so keep thinking about the size restriction when you are making your model.

2 - Make all of the walls the same height. You may slope the roof.

3 - Your building is to be only one floor heigh.

4 - Each building must include at least one window and one internal space (divided from the main space by a wall and/ or door). This internal space must also include features like a toilet, shower, kitchen cooker or bench, storage cupboards etc. You don't have to make these in the model, but you will be asked to include them in the scale drawing plans, so keep the space in mind when you make the model.

5 - When you are creating doors and windows, don't try to make models of them. Just leave blank areas. A vertical blank represents a door, a horizontal black represents a window.

Sketching 3d

We move into the model making phase now. The intention here is not to make a model of a house you are thinking of, but to use the materials to explore form in the same way as you made two dimensional sketches.

You are asked to make a pile of fairly random pieces (you may make them the same widths, or lengths - to help them go together accurately) and then use them to build an enclosure. 

The whole job is intended to be experimental - to provide fuel for the more formal phases of the task. 

Read through the captions on the pictures below to see how to go about making your original model. Will pictures of your model be next on this page?

Full col image header

Research and print A3 sheets of surfaces. Google search for large images so they are clear whey you print them.
Then stick them to sheets of 'foam core' with 'Jac paper'.
Trim them up 'square' using the light lines on a cutting mat.
Align them carefully to cut them exactly square.
Cut them into strips first, then cut several pieces the same size. This will help your model go together.
Glue them together carefully. Not all the walls are the same height. And look at the gaps left for doors and windows.
Completed model showing door and window gaps.
Completed model showing how I create sloping roofs with poles to support them.
Loyola College 2012
Loyola College 2012
Loyola College 2012
Loyola College 2012

3 tasks

3.1 MAKING structures

To make your model follow this process:

  • Collect large images of man made and natural textures,
  • Print them on A3 paper,
  • Use Jac paper to adhere printed textures to 3 or 5 mm foamcore,
  • Then cut up random shapes. Cut some the same size or width so you can make boxes,
  • Glue them together with a hot glue gun.
  • Check to keep your angles square.

The result is a model with a deconstructed surface. Remember keep it experimental.


Extension task

Google sketchup

Use Google sketchup to make a virtual model of your house design.

Architects use CAD software to build virtual models of houses. CAD means Computer Assisted Design.

Google sketchup is a real CAD software like TinkerCAD, ArchiCAD and Solidworks. 

The benifits of CAD is you can work in real dimensions, rather than in scale and your work can be output in a wide variety of 2 and 3 dimensional presentation formats. 

tasks 4

4.1 Sketchup

Create a virtual model of your house in Sketchup. Print a shot of your work for your visual diary.

In addition, research how your building design can be output as 2d and 3d drawings. Print a 2 version and a 3d 2 point perspective version. 

Place all this work with annotations in your visual diary.


Evaluation and deeper learning

In this section we will think about the learning we have done. We will review the main topics and evaluate our learning. Follow the steps in the tasks shown here to prepare your folio for presentation and grading.
What have I learnt?

Answer the following questions (on paper or if you use a computer, print them and stick them into your visual diary).

  1. What do you think architecture is?
  2. Describe what is meant by the term 'environmental design'.
  3. What is a 'brief'? Why is one needed in design?
  4. Who are the two main people involved in a brief?
  5. What is meant by 'audience'?
  6. How could we describe 'audience'?
  7. Define the following terms - shape, form, void, surface, plane, line, texture, pattern in sentence answers.
  8. Write a paragraph on how you have combined textures and colours in your model.
  9. Write a paragraph on how effective you think your building structure is in answering your brief? Will it perform the function you described? What might you need to change?
  10. Complete the 'Ratings' section to help improve this course.
Putting it together

Find where you wrote up what you thought the success criteria might be. Check that you have done something for all of the steps you wrote down.

Photograph and print pictures of your model. Put them in your visual diary and annotate them. Describe them using design language what you were intending in each part of your model.

Check the assessment criteria below to see if you have prepared your folio for each criteria. If not, take the time to complete each section.

Hand up your work on the due date as instructed.


Evaluation and deeper learning
Complete the evaluation, deeper learning and rating tasks as shown above.
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Assessment criteria

The extent to which the student: 

  1. Documents a range of research using existing and inspirational architecture and related ideas,

  2. Investigates aesthetic, functional, social and environmental features of 'nano' houses in a written analysis.

  3. Investigates the design elements and principles; shape, line, texture, pattern, colour through experimentation in architectural  sketching and 2d collage,

  4. Investigates the design elements, principles and concepts; form, void, surface, plane, line, texture, pattern, colour through experimentation in 3d model making,

  5. Answers the evaluation questions meaningfully with appropriate design language.

Please note: To achieve good marks in criteria based assessment you must remember to include some work for each part of the task required. Spread your time evenly across the task.