Urban Master Planning
In Stephen Cousin’s fascinating interview in BIM+, Nick Edwards, urbanist principal of BDP Architects, explains the latest thinking and how models could evolve in future. Cities worldwide are developing intelligent 3D models to help streamline urban master planning and gauge the impact of new developments and public services.
What are the advantages?
Helsinki, Hamburg, Chicago and Singapore have developed smart 3D models to help improve their processes and as tools for analysis. It’s possible to place a 3D model of a proposed new building into the city model and calculate the impacts on factors like wind movement, traffic, energy, utilities demand, waste and sunlight. You can analyse the incline and orientation of roofs to calculate the potential to generate solar power.
It is possible to overlay public spaces with mapping of air and noise pollution, and sunlight paths to see if they perform well. The more parameters you overlay the more insights it is possible to extract.
3D city models can also provide quantitative benefits, they can help residents directly engage with proposed development to commenting on visual impact, the amount of parking or the amount of open space included.
Interactive City Planning
Helsinki is developing an interaction platform for city planning that will enable citizens to press buttons to, for example, indicate that they want more parking, or less parking, or more parks. It then identifies options that best fit their requests and the data is passed to the Helsinki city planning employees to inform design decisions.
This is not always beneficial. In a UK context, for example, people will often want more parking facilities and this can have a negative impact on noise and pollution. They might want more public space or lower densities without necessarily appreciating that this might push people further apart and reduce the overall efficiency of local services. Sometimes less is more and a smaller amount of space that’s better designed and managed might produce a better overall outcome.
Key Architectural Design Tools?
The ability to illustrate your scheme and its impacts within the context of a broader model would be an incredibly powerful tool that could also help avoid duplicating information. The way the industry currently works can result in numerous design and development projects procuring separate topographic surveys and utilities surveys for the same areas, people are mapping things that someone else has mapped before. It’s such an inefficiency. Capturing all that data in a single city-wide model has to be a great thing for Great Britain plc.
This type of model has the potential to be very beneficial for many local authorities, but the challenge is resource. There needs to be some higher level thought on how they are financed. The public sector in the UK would struggle to take the lead and find the budgets required to put in train detailed models for every council.
The City of London has produced an advanced model which it is using in practice, but it has a very different demographic and method of raising funds. It feels like the biggest inroads are going to be for private landowners or developers of larger schemes who see the value and can justify investing in the technology.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
It is not unrealistic to think that models will include live data feeds from sensors in buildings and infrastructure to give a detailed picture of various city functions. One potential issue is data privacy. By default parts of the private sector are in competition and many will be unwilling to share their information. If the public sector can take the lead and help unlock some the less sensitive data, in a collective and collaborative way, there could be benefits for everyone, including society as a whole.
Buildings are rapidly becoming ‘intelligent’. The incorporation of devices that can be controlled by and report though the internet, is advancing rapidly. Recent Government initiatives to encourage R&D and the likely regulatory requirement for cabling to be provided for Electric Vehicles (EV), as well as Broad Band connectivity, in all new homes can only encourage this. Our experience is that timber, as the only renewable building material on the planet, is also highly flexible as a construction material, well able to adapt to and with such rapid changes, for which our expanding Specialist Merchants division, is also leading the way by providing unusual and hard to find environmentally sound, eco-friendly, sustainable and complimentary building products and components.
Your Partner in Development
Whether or not you are facing Custom Build plot demands, working with our teams to provide better value, more readily marketable homes could benefit Architects and Builders alike. Our specialist services deliver best value and protect the interests of land owners, house-builder developers, professionals and private individuals seeking to build their dream home. Our off-site construction systems reduce the amount of material that gets wasted on site, helping to avoid land fill, hazardous waste separation and handling, and delivers better value for you and your customers.
PLEASE CONTACT US FOR AN INFORMAL DISCUSSION AS TO HOW WE MIGHT WORK TOGETHER
Call us to arrange a factory visit and discuss your ideas and needs with our in-house team of professionals for your next project. You’ll be glad you did!