VCD Unit 3 AOS 1.2 Environmental design practice

Practice environmental design.

Outcome 1

(Full Outcome statement for the six part Area of Study)

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

  • Create visual communications for specific contexts, purposes
    and audiences that are informed by their analysis of existing visual communications in the three design fields.

What you will do

This task is from the field of environmental design. 

This is the second task in the six part Area of Study 1 in Year 12 Visual Communication Design.

In this task we modify a shipping container to create an information kiosk/ cafe for Kakadu National Park using the information gained in the first task. We then revise and learn the drawing methods for environmental design; Plans and Elevations, perspective and planometric.

There will be three different practice tasks. One for each design field.

Read below for instructions.

Quick menu

Model answer

This is a preparatory task done on the way to making manual 3-dimensional drawings required in this Outcome.
Putting my information kiosk/ cafe design to a new purpose.

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.

Getting started

Here is a simple design task to enable you to set up an architectural form to be the subject of your practise of each of the required drawing methods for environmental design.



Information kiosk/ cafe

Using the shipping container as a building module, we are going to design an information kiosk for Kakadu National Park Northern Territory. You should now have a sound understanding of what features and characteristics a building needs to have to work well in the tropics. Our building is going to have three purposes. These are an information and Segway hire kiosk, a café and charge point for Segway kind of transports. It will comprise of indoor and outdoor spaces.

The building will need to contain;

  • indoor staff area, kitchen and café preparation,
  • outdoor café area
  • toilets
  • electronic information board with solar power
  • electric re-charge point for transports


We have already made some research into how buildings are designed for the tropics, but before we begin designing our café, we should consider how others have re-purposed shipping containers.

Techniques for gaining attention and maintaining engagement of audiences using visual language

Another consideration is how designers grab and hold the attention of their audiences. This is particularly important for commercial buildings like the information kiosk/ café we will design. Look at the following images of re-purposed shipping containers and read my take on how the designers gained and maintained audience attention.

How do they attract our attention and hold it?

Reference: (https://shippingcontainers for-sale/shipping-containers- cafe-brisbane/) Accessed 14 January 2020.
The designer has gained attention by using wooden doors on the black steel container. They have maintained interest by placing other wooden features around to contrast with the steel.
Reference: ( au/sydney/food-and-drink/shipping-container-cafe) Accessed 14 January 2020.
The designer has gained attention by painting the container white. This makes it look light and inviting. They have maintained interest by using details such as a wooden texture and lights in the opening.

tasks 1

1.1 Image search

Create a page of 6 images that show how shipping containers have been used for environmental purposes such as a café. Describe changes designers have made to the containers. Don’t forget to reference your images properly. ‘Pintrest’ is not sufficient.

1.2 Techniques to gain and maintain interest

Annotate one of your research images to explain how the designer gained attention and then maintained the interest of their target audience.



Now that we have taken a look at how containers can be re-purposed it is time to design our own information center and cafe.

Visualising in perspective

Its time now to start work on designing our own information kiosk/ café for Kakadu national park. The first task is to visualize the container in two-point perspective. I chose this drawing method as it gives a realistic view of buildings. Although isometric is perhaps easier to construct, it is better to use when you know the dimensions of the structure you want to depict.

I have created a simplified set of plans for the container for you.  Using techniques similar to those required for the exam, you will construct a line drawing you can use later for your visualization drawings.

Now you will make a two-point perspective drawing of the container. Note, I made the ribs in eight, evenly spaced portions on the side. This was so you can use the diagonal method to divide it into eight even parts.

A simplified shipping container

Use the Plans and Elevation shown below to create a perspective drawing of this container.

Plans and elevations

Use this diagram to create your two-point perspective. Note; the height of the horizon line is at three quarters of the closest vertical line.

2-point perspective

A manual drawing. Note: I have set the vanishing points to give a realistic asymmetrical viewpoint. I also used the 'diagonal' method to calculate and space eight even sections to the side.

Visualising the cafe

Once you have a clear idea about the form of a shipping container it's time to start visualising how the information kiosk/ cafe could look. I have made a page of loose sketches at right. You can see that I have annotated my drawings to explain the features of tropical design I found out in the last task.

A loose page of annotated visualisation drawings.

Use the Plans and Elevation shown below to create a perspective drawing of this container.

tasks 2

2.1 Visualise form
Using two-point perspective draw one picture of a shipping container. Use the Plans above as a guide. Note the height of horizon line. I did not give you vanishing points. Determine your own as you create a realistic drawing. You will make a clean line drawing on then photocopy your drawing and make adjustments as you incorporate features and characteristics to suit the brief and the climate.
2.2 Visualise the cafe

Using the perspective drawing you made as a base make one to two pages of visualization drawings for your information kiosk/ café. Annotate your drawings to explain the features you have included to make your container suit the climate and the purpose. Refer back to the ten characteristics needed for tropical buildings you discovered in the last task.


Plans and elevations

Let's now consider making our ideas more formal. The end of this task will be to have Plans and Elevations of your information kiosk/ cafe that you can use to build a model of the structure in Sketchup (if you can) and to base your three-dimensional work on.

Plans and elevations to Australian Standards

You will now develop a preferred design into Plans and Elevations. These plans will be used to produce a full set of Plans and Elevations acknowledging site and aspect drawn to (VCAA) Australian standards.

First you will work manual to resolve the dimensions of your café at scale, then digital in Illustrator to complete your plans.

You will also have to consult the current VCAA technical drawing resource for exact information. (This document is under revision at January 2020).

Formalising ideas in a sketch plan

I took my preferred idea then imagined it in Plan (top) view. I went back to the brief to ensure I was incorporating all I needed. I didn't worry about scale at this stage.

Going digital


Working at 1:100 I built my plan in Adobe Illustrator. See details in the Task section below.

These are the finished position of the views (to accommodate dimensions and labels) but they did not start off this far apart.

The Elevations show a 2400 mm roof height.

I also used 0.1 mm stroke for small lines and 0.25 mm stroke for outlines.

Including conventions

Using the conventions in the VCAA Technical Drawing specifications document, I completed my plan. It's read to go for development into 3-d.

tasks 3

3.1 Development

Take your preferred design from your visualization drawings done in Task 2.2. Develop this design in Plan view. You may make a couple of sketches to resolve the layout. Don’t worry too much about scale at this stage. Remember the features you must include from the brief. Annotate the areas you are including on your plan.

3.2 Refinement of Plan

Digital drawing. Working at a scale of 1:100, draw a box 123 mm wide x 24 mm high. This will be the plan of your shipping container before you add the opening features. It will seem really tiny but will actually be perfect for you to demonstrate your understanding of conventions and will fit on an A4 sheet. Working to scale add all the features required for the tropics and for the brief to this plan.

Note: at 1:100 internal walls are shown at 1 mm thick, external walls at 2 mm thick (including the steel of the container. Show opening flaps and overhead roofs or sails with dotted lines.

3.3 Development of Elevations

Working from the plan, complete two Elevations at the same scale on the same sheet.

I showed a wall height of 2400 mm.

3.4 conventions

Add dimensions, North point, labels and other information like a title block to Australian Standards, following the dimensions guide in the VCAA Technical Drawing Specifications.

3.5 Design thinking
Please note: this is an ongoing task and needs to be demonstrated throughout this project.

The Study Design requires us to 'make an document design decisions that are informed by the analysis of existing visual communications and make connections between them' (VCAA VCD Study Design, 2018-22, p22).

You already discussed changes you would make to shipping containers to make them more suitable for life in the tropics at the end of the last assessment task.

What is required now is to explain the decisions you are making and how they are connected with your understanding of existing designs. 

Annotate your drawings consistently to explain the design decisions you are making.




In this section you will model the container in Sketchup (if you are able) and complete all the three-dimensional drawings required for environmental design in Visual Communication Design.

Modeling in CAD


Just to be clear

Modelling a structure using a CAD program is not a requirement of this Outcome. I have suggested it as a way of visualising form. I do not use CAD drawings as a substitute for doing them manually. Constructing three-dimensional forms manually is a requirement. I suggest using CAD to support your understanding of form. You will see it used this way below.

You may have heard the term 'CAD'. It means computer aided design. This refers to CAD programs using computer power to, among other things, design in real space using real dimensions. So what's the difference between designing in CAD or in Adobe Illustrator? The difference, you will see as you use SketchUp, is that in Illustrator we need to work out manually where things go according to a scale, we also have to work out. Then we place them there quite manually. Using Illustrator for technical drawing is like doing a manual drawing, but on a computer.

However, when we use CAD we work in real live space. When we work on CAD the computer handles the scale, the positions, the layout.

Try it and see. Click the image below right to start a SketchUp tutorial. (Sorry, only available if your school subscribes to SketchUp)

Using Sketchup

The tutorial at right is in imperial measurements. I copy some conversions and steps to accent the set of videos for you below.

How to make a shipping container in sketchup

This one is in imperial. So you understand 7/16ths of an inch!?!

Imperial to metric

8’7” (2438.4mm),40.5’ (12344.4mm)
7” (177.8mm)

6” x 6” (152.4mm)
1” (25.4mm)

Distance from front plinth 1.5” (38.1mm)
Length of first line 1’ 5 7/16”(438.15mm)
Insert protractor axis 28.2 degrees
Next lateral line 3 1/16” (77.78mm)
Next protractor axis 28,2 degrees
(offset) 3/16” (4.76mm)
(wall height) 7.9’ (2407.92mm)

Video part 2

Post height extension
6” (152.4mm)
Complete wall

Video part 3

Group wall into a nested component
Create doors

Door rectangle
3.5’(1066.8mm) x 4” (101.6mm)
Door indents markers
From top: 5 5/8” (143mm)
From left: 3” (76mm)
Square indent 3’ (914mm) x 6 ½” (165mm)
Shapes offset 2” (50mm)
Door shapes indent in with move tool 5/8” (16mm)

Making door bars
1” (24.5 mm radius) to height of post
Cross bar 2’ (610mm)

Complete container by extruding a roof.

Making the model information kiosk/ café

Save and duplicate your file before you start modifying your container.

Other informative videos on Sketchup

SketchUp Skill Builder: Import Reference Image
How to scale a reference image

SketchUp Skill Builder: Reference Images for Architecture
Begins by tracing a freehand jpg then
Importing a pdf (for Mac) or jpg for windows of a plan

5 Ways to CUT HOLES AND CREATE OPENINGS in your SketchUp Models
Cutting holes using ‘intersect faces’ to cut holes in curves

10 Ways to Create Curved, Rounded, and Organic Shapes in SketchUp
Using follow me tool to extrude shapes along a path
Use intersecting circles to create spheres with ‘follow me’ tool
Using the ‘sandbox’ tool to create and distort a grid to organic form

How To Create Domes, Spheres & Other Curved Shapes in Sketchup
Good tutorial on how to create a dome

How to create organic shapes with native tools in SketchUp - Skill Builder
Using intersecting planes to create organic forms

Sketchup Skill Builder: 2D and 3D Door Components
How to make doorways and doors

tasks 4a

4A.1 Model shipping container

Follow the video steps above to model your shipping container.

One tip I would give since I modelled mine is to create the container walls with no thickness. This will help when you come to cut holes in it.

Modifying container for information kiosk/ cafe

Now that you have both a shipping container model in CAD, and Plans and Elevations of the information kiosk/ cafe you have designed, it's time to combine these into your completed model.

I worked with the dimensions in my Plans and Elevations and modified my container CAD file.

If you have never used SketchUp, this is a fairly major ta

CAD container

Here is a screen shot of my completed information kiosk/ cafe in SketchUp.

Hidden geometry

In order to complete the interior of the structure I 'hid' all the roof details. Here is the 'hidden geometry' made visible.

tasks 4

4.1 Model modified shipping container

Using the dimensions in you Plans and Elevations, cut into the model of your shipping container you made in Sketchup. At this stage you can represent kitchens and benches as simple forms as the 3-d model is only intended to give you an idea of forms for your manual drawings.

As an extension exercise try downloading CAD files of furniture to put into your café. Acknowledge sources in your visual diary.

One-point perspective

If you have been able to complete the modified shipping container in SketchUp, then use it to help visualise a view for one-point perspective.

(Select 2-point perspective in 'Camera' then rotate until horizontals and vertical are just that).

end view of container

Rotate your container to get a view that will work for one-point perspective.

Manual drawing

Set up a horizon line and vanishing point and make a quick manual drawing based on your screen shot.

tasks 4

4.2 One-point perspective
Use your CAD drawing as a model to get a view of one section of your café in one-point perspective. Print it or work from screen to produce a manual line drawing using one vanishing point. This does not have to be a wonderfully detailed drawing, just one that demonstrates you can use this method competently.


Again, if you have been able to complete the modified shipping container in SketchUp, then use it to help visualise a view for a planometric drawing.

(Select 2'Parallel Projection' in 'Camera' then rotate until you get it working like a planometric drawing. I put a set square on my screen to line it up!!).

Rotate model

Rotate your container to get a view that will work for planometric.

Manual drawing


Though not strictly manual, I used Illustrator to set up a planometric projection over my Plan. You can do the same thing with a light box.

Completed drawing

The last step is to trace each plane and give them tone to create form. I did this on a separate layer

tasks 4

4.3 Planometric
Use your Plan and Elevations to form up a detail of one space in your information kiosk/ café for a planometric drawing. Make a manual line drawing using this method. This does not have to be a wonderfully detailed drawing, just one that demonstrates you can use this method competently.


For environmental drawings

To finish this task we will refer back to Purposes for Visual Communication Design, and more particularly those for environmental design. You will discuss the purposes for your drawings and suggest and design a presentation with an alternative purpose.

Why are these drawings made?

By now you have made several drawings using both manual and digital skills in CAD, perspective and paraline. It’s time now to consider what might the purpose of these drawings be? Who might their target audience be? And what features have you included to meet this purpose?

The purposes for visual communications in our study include to advertise, promote, depict, teach, inform, identify and guide.

To fully cement your knowledge, you will also be asked to suggest an alternative purpose and think about how they would need to be modified to meet a different purpose and target audience.

Alternative purpose


I re-purposed my planometric drawing by using it as part of a new presentation that would guide visitors in the Park.

tasks 5

5.1 Purposes for environmental drawings

Create a new sheet with a heading ‘Purposes for environmental drawings’. Describe the purpose that each of the drawing you have done could be used for. In your descriptions give information about the project, its location, the client, the purpose of the drawings and how you have met this purpose.

5.2 A different purpose

Consider the range of purposes for VCD; to advertise, promote, depict, teach, inform, identify and guide. Choose one of them and make a draft layout using one of your drawings that has a different purpose. You will probably be switching to communication design for this one, but this will enable you to see just how different design fields work together. You may choose to do this manually or digitally.

Work to about A5 so you can complete this task in about 20 minutes.


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?
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.

Print final and organise your written answers and visual diary for submission.

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

Hand up your work on the due date as instructed.


Evaluation and deeper learning
Evaluate your folio for accuracy and completion.

Assessment criteria

Below is shown a broad indication of the evidence a student should show.

Click here to download a complete assessment rubric for this task

The extent to which the student demonstrates:

  1. Techniques for gaining attention and maintaining engagement of audiences using visual language
  2. Drawing methods to visualise ideas and concepts
  3. two-dimensional (plans and elevations) and three-dimensional (perspective: one and two point) and paraline (planometric) drawing methods to represent forms
  4. Methods of converting two-dimensional representation to three-dimensional representation drawing and the reverse
  5. Technical drawing c­­onventions appropriate for specified purposes, including layout, dimensions, labels, symbols and lines
  6. Techniques for creating visual communications using manual and digital methods
  7. Methods, materials and media used for different visual communications
  8. Purposes of visual communications, including to advertise, promote, depict, teach, inform, identify and guide

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.