Tuesday, August 14, 2007

City Engine


Surfing on Youtube I ran into CityEngine. It is an architectural modelling tool and a project of PhD candidate Pascal Mueller, who is research assistant at the Computer Vision Lab at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland (Einstein studied there as well).

CityEngine is software for the creative and efficient creation of digital architecture and is focused mainly on the procedural modelling of architecture. The eventual goal is to create a tool which allows efficient digital content creation of detailed large-scale 3D models for a variety of applications including urban planning, entertainment, archaeology and simulation. To do this it is essential to define the syntax and vocabulary of a design grammar for computer generated architecture. Buildings can then be generated automatically by following the given aesthetic and statutory architectural rules.

Imagine what this tool could mean to city planning. Rather than trying to plan every street and to define every parcel, we could define a number of parameters to which city (slum) dwellers would have to apply. They would be able to build their own houses, and it would mean the liberation and democratization of design. We would be able to speak of an Open Source City.

With a tool like CityEngine, the municipal urban planning department would be able to calculate possible growth patterns of the city. The model could be fed with demographic data. This way, the size of an average family could directly be translated to the size of a building and through it, to the appearance of the city. This way municipal planning departments would be able to anticipate by investing in infrastructure. This in turn would avoid traffic congestion and pollution related problems, which would significantly improve the liveability of the city.

Looking at the software of Pascal Mueller, the solution is just around the corner.

More: ETH, Pascal Mueller, CityEngine
Previous posts:
fractals, swarm theory and the end of urban planning

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