More than just re-designing cities and towns is part of effective urban planning. It’s all about local democracy, or the concept that the people who use a space—and whose taxes fund its development—should have a say in how it’s developed.
The need for public engagement in ethical — and effective — urban planning is generally acknowledged. Residents who are given a window into the development process take better care of the region, show more goodwill toward the project and have a higher degree of user satisfaction once it is done. As a result, the manner in which planned infrastructure projects are conveyed is critical.
Local governments may have previously relied exclusively on pencil sketches or tiny models to communicate their goals. They can now create engaging animations to go along with static renderings thanks to interactive 3D technologies. These real-time visuals give a much better idea of how the development will affect the surrounding region.
Fast and effective urban planning visualization
Sophia Antipolis, the French Riviera’s counterpart to Silicon Valley, is nestled among the pine forests of south-west France. Although it may appear to be an odd location for global technology companies and high-tech startups, Sophia Antipolis has attracted significant names in technology, like Amadeus, Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft, since its inception in 1969.
The entire area is designed to look like a park, with no straight roads and plenty of trees. In fact, green spaces make over two-thirds of Sophia Antipolis. There’s also a strong sense of belonging—locals connect closely with the city, even referring to themselves as “Sophiepolitans.”
Given the community’s pride in the place, it’s logical that when the region’s administrative body decided to do substantial infrastructure projects, they needed a good means to inform the people.
The Sophia Antipolis Agglomeration Community (CASA) proposes the construction of a new bus and tram route infrastructure. The bus/tram route, which includes 17 additional stops and bike lanes, is designed to relieve strain on Sophia Antipolis’ transportation network as the technological park expands. The entire enterprise must live up to its promise of long-term development.
CASA commissioned Egis, a prominent multinational firm active in the building, engineering, and transportation services sectors, to produce a variety of communication materials, as well as infrastructure studies, to help the public comprehend its planned plans. These would feature a combination of video and still photos and would highlight a key portion of the bus and tram route.
To generate these materials, the Egis team chose to employ the quick archviz tool Twinmotion. Twinmotion is most known for its capacity to create tiny home visualisations, but it’s increasingly demonstrating its scalability on bigger urban development projects like this.
Bringing different datasets together easily.
The first objective for Egis was to create a computerised copy of the sections of Sophia Antipolis that will be impacted by the construction. It produced a model of the works’ contextual surroundings using data from OpenStreetMap, a global collaborative mapping effort, and data from a topographic survey conducted on site to increase the digital model’s accuracy.
The building models that line the bus-tram route were likewise made with free data and textured using facades from Autodesk’s civil infrastructure design program, InfraWorks. Using BIM infrastructure software Mensura Genius, the team built models from the ground up for the planned new roadways and infrastructure facilities. IFC, SKP, and FBX files were used to export models from these and other third-party programs to Twinmotion. “Data transmission to Twinmotion was quite simple,” explains Egis Project Engineer William Weltzer.
Twinmotion has been used by Weltzer for almost a year. The program is a perfect fit for urban planning tasks for him. “It’s a fantastic communication tool—it makes it a lot easier for customers and the general public to comprehend the project than old-school tools,” he adds. “You can show anything in three dimensions, with moving cars and plants, as well as realistic lighting and shadows. You can even visualize what the project will look like once it is completed from the perspective of a pedestrian.”
With all of the data in Twinmotion, Egis was able to use the tool’s robust feature set to bring the visualization to life. It was realistically populated with genuine features such as people and traffic to simulate how traveling along the bus-tram line would feel. “Twinmotion was tremendously helpful in producing the dynamic vehicle trajectories seen in the video,” Weltzer adds. “Moreover, creating the gorgeous and lively greenery with the paintbrush was simple.”
Twinmotion was created with ease of use in mind, allowing teams to swiftly generate visualizations—ideal for meeting tight deadlines. “With Twinmotion, we were able to create lifelike renderings without having to spend a lot of time in the studio,” adds Weltzer. “It’s highly user-friendly, with features that are useful and relevant to our tasks, and it provides the tools that are best suited for what we do,” says the user.
Egis is one of a number of companies that have realized that Twinmotion’s quick processes can help them achieve large projects like these. An increasing number of urban planners and government organizations are utilizing Twinmotion to visualize huge swaths of metropolitan areas—even entire cities—in addition to architects and designers who use it for residential projects.
With new upgrades to Twinmotion being released on a regular basis, project engineers like Weltzer can expect even more enhancements to their urban planning visualisation workflows. He continues, “I can’t wait to see what additional features and improvements you’re working on to make our renderings even better!”