June 11 - Urban planners and architects will soon be able to take a virtual tour of houses and neighborhoods to help them make important design and planning decisions. The Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering in Stuttgart says their 3D Virtual Cityscape project will offer new perspectives for urban planners creating the cities and suburbs of the future. Jim Drury reports.
Building planning as you've never seen it. Devised by engineers at Stuttgart's Fraunhofer Institute, this 3D model allows architects and house owners to pinpoint and solve any potential design flaws......before the first brick is laid. Users walk through a 3D replica of their building wearing specially-adapted glasses. Roland Blach led the research team which designed the parametric modelling entitled 'Virtual Cityscape'. SOUNDBITE (English) ROLAND BLACH, DEPARTMENT HEAD AT THE FRAUNHOFER INSTITUTE FOR INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING, SAYING: "The building we are in now, we used this visualisation technology as a communication tool for the overall process of planning and deciding with our management and us, we were planning about our new offices, and discussing where to move the furniture, what kind of furniture we want to use, and we did that all in the virtual environments. We went to the cave, looked in on-to-one scale and experienced it as you've seen it. Then we decided and that was actually fed back in the process and the architect and designers came up with new solutions." The tool takes into account different logistical flows, such as the number of people passing through corridors, and incorporates the information into planning. Blach says the tool will help different experts to reach agreement on design plans. SOUNDBITE (English) ROLAND BLACH, DEPARTMENT HEAD AT THE FRAUNHOFER INSTITUTE FOR INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING, SAYING: "You have the people who have to move in, you have different flavours of planners, you have the architect, the overall mastermind of the planning, but you also have some electricians who look for the heating environment, people who are looking for the interior design, for the electricity and today even more the IT components in-built in the buildings, and they all speak a different language. Although they are all specialists, it's very helpful to provide them with a tool where they can agree on what they are talking about." The other element of Virtual Cityscape is this urban planning facility. Town planners and residents can take a virtual tour of entire neighbourhoods and measure noise levels, pollution, and traffic volumes. Interpreting data in current 2D simulation models is difficult, due to the lack of spatial information. The Fraunhofer system presents the data in a form that city planners can see from above and virtually manipulate, with computer assistance. In their demonstration model the team examined noise and pollution levels in Stuttgart, using a system of colour-coding to differentiate between noise levels in the city centre. SOUNDBITE (English) ROLAND BLACH, DEPARTMENT HEAD AT THE FRAUNHOFER INSTITUTE FOR INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING, SAYING: "Red and purple is actually no-go and you see we are here on the main street during the day, so it's very noisy there, it's not a good place to be to rest and to be quiet, and if you got to the side streets like here in the areas you see in green and yellow, green is okay, blue is very low, and the size of the cubes also depict the noise level." The Virtual Cityscape technology is already available direct from Fraunhofer. Blach hopes it will become a popular tool for municipal authorities to consult residents on proposed building works and turn Virtual Cityscapes into a reality that works for everyone involved. Jim Drury, Reuters