KS3 Art Project – 3D Design and Build

This 3D art project is great because it engages boys, uses minimal materials (mainly just paper and card), introduces new equipment and materials AND it can be really easily adapted. I teach this Design and Build architecture project every year because it is so much fun (and not just for the students šŸ˜‚ ). Once you set the task, students love working on their projects each week. I taught it for one hour per week for a 6 or 7 week half term.

Materials used in this fun 3D art project:

I purposefully kept the materials simple and easy to get hold of – keeping costs down too!

  • Cardboard – I keep everything in school, included cardboard packaging. If you don’t have any, ask other departments, the caretakers and the students to bring in some from home. Easy!
  • Brown tape or strong masking tape
  • Glue guns
  • Craft knives – I gave out one per group of students so you don’t really need many.
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This full 3D art project is available here – enjoy!

To make the 3D art / architecture project a bit more creative and to move students away from ‘building houses’, I created a brief around the idea of 3D Vessels. This meant students didn’t automatically think of designing buildings and could draw some crazy designs for their initial ideas. The crazier the better!

Simple 3D art project brief - KS3 scheme of work

To start the project, students researched an architect. I chose architect Michael Wilford who is relevant to my students (I’m based in the North West) as we sometimes visit the Lowry Theatre on school trips. The architecture there is very unusual and it was likely that students had seen his work and could use this as inspiration in their designs.

I introduced the project with questions about Michael Wilford’s architecture that focused on shape and pattern. Then, students were given a drawing task to create their own drawings based on what they could see in his designs. They were aiming to make their drawings have different features and start to look 3D. Later I used their drawings as resources for starters / plenaries in the art lessons:

3d art lesson resources

It was great seeing the different responses students made to the architecture / vessels brief! I wanted them to be really creative with their ideas and not have a ‘traditional’ building shape in their head before they started building their design ideas.

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Ways to engage boys in art

When I was thinking about this 3D art project and creating the resources, I was trying to think of as many ways to engage boys. I chose an architecture theme as all of the other themes they had studied had been inspired by nature – I wanted something that was in contrast and aesthetically very bold. I also wanted it to be a tactile and physical project, introducing the students to new materials and techniques.

I decided to use the success criteria to try and engage boys too, focusing on teamwork and effort rather than the ‘look’ of their outcomes. Introducing the criteria was really important as the work was not marked on WHAT the students made, but HOW they worked to make it. This helped to make the project really fun, as there was less worry about doing things ‘wrong’.

This full 3D art project is available here – enjoy!

I wanted to make it as easy as possible to be successful in this 3D project, so students had to work in teams, become problem-solvers and work cooperatively in order to get good marks. This could be adapted to your school effort criteria – ours is called the ATL (Attitude to Learning). I also added elements of competition each lesson, giving prizes for the best teams, best communication, best progress etc.

Art lesson teamwork project
This was a short starter activity for students to think about effective teamwork during the art lesson.

Throughout the project I added different lesson starter ideas linked to teamwork and interpersonal skills, aiming to have students reflect on what they did well and how they could improve. This was really good for developing their teamwork and communication skills each week.


I have shared a huge presentation of around 50 fun art lesson starter ideas and activities here. Enjoy!


Teamwork art lesson resources
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This was a really fun building project as once everything had been set up and students had worked on their structures for a couple of lessons, they could be really independent and just carry on working throughout the lessons. I taught this for a 6 week term using differentiated outcomes to stretch students and add some more challenge.

I made sure to include a safety slide because students were using craft knives, so after the ground rules were set and understood, the teams could go off and work away – they had some fantastic outcomes! But I ended up giving the classes feedback based on their efforts as a team. At the end of this 3D construction art project I gave out awards for the best teamwork, best efforts, most progress and most improved. As it was designed as a summer term project it was a good way to keep students (particularly boys!) motivated and engaged.

Simple 3D art project - teamwork slide

This full 3D art project is available here – enjoy!

Here are some pics of the 3D work in progress and students in action!

And one of my favourite pieces šŸ™‚

Easy 3D art project ideas

Have you taught a fun and easy 3D project in art? Or tried something similar? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to share your ideas.

6 thoughts on “KS3 Art Project – 3D Design and Build

  1. LOVE this! The one the boys made is wonderful. The details (ex.: using the different aspects of the corrugation for different purposes, the clothesline) and the way the top parts of the building punch up into the sky fascinate. šŸ‘šŸ‘šŸ‘šŸ‘šŸ‘ You’ve inspired me! I’m going to make a “face” building. No extra corrugation but lots of thin cardboard hanging around. So exciting!! Thank you!! šŸ™ƒšŸ‘‹

    Liked by 1 person

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