Computer generated model of St.Paul's Cathedral through VU.CITY

VU.CITY – Pioneering prop-tech for the built environment


(Source: VU.CITY)

Have you ever wondered how architects and developers envision their designs before the completed project? Till now, physical models and dated CGI showcase the finished product in a limited capacity, whereby the creatives behind the project aren’t able to fully visualise the impact their creations may have within its surroundings. This is where VU.CITY – a property technology company – have developed a unique (and truly interactive) 3D digital platform that allows architects, developers, local authorities and planners to bring their proposals to life. The platform is changing approaches to the built environment day by day.

Computer generated model of London through VU.CITY
VU.CITY’s interactive interface allows users to view planned developments (1 Undershaft) as well as those under construction (22 Bishopsgate) (Source: VU.CITY)

VU.CITY employs game developers who utilise game engine technology to incorporate a city’s entire footprint into its platform. Since its inception in 2015, it has drawn praise from local boroughs and architectural practices, many of whom commend its easily navigable interface and ability to capture outputs accurate to within 15cm. It is becoming an important part of the planning process, especially when the decision to build high-rises in the City cluster is concerned. Discussions between planners, consultants, clients and local authorities can also take place in real-time. Strict planning regulations mean that developers must adhere to certain restrictions concerning the height of buildings in order to protect views of key historic sites such as St. Paul’s Cathedral (see below).

Computer generated model of St.Paul's Cathedral through VU.CITY
(Source: VU.CITY)

I attended a talk at the New London Architecture exhibition where the VU.CITY sales team were able to demonstrate some of the key features of the platform. Among many, these are what stood out to me the most:

  • Specific height-to-tip details of completed structures, those under construction and those still in the planning phase.
  • An individual’s POV looking from inside a skyscraper, and how future rising buildings adjacent to the existing one (in the City, for example) would impact their view.
  • The effect of sunrise and sunset casting light and shadows on the City.
  • Key urban planning tools highlighting efforts to improve traffic congestion and live CCTV updates of specific neighbourhoods.
  • The relative expansion of the platform in steadily covering the outer London zones near the Green Belt.

Although this platform is fantastic for those casual built environment enthusiasts, it’s not a free service and is predominantly used for commercial and business purposes. However, I do predict the rise of the software to be quite significant, almost to the point where developers and planners will wonder how they coped with setbacks previously. I also see it as a fantastic tool for planned developments in many Asian cities (think Mumbai) that are gripped with overcrowding and congestion issues. The impact of this major player on the prop-tech industry is yet to be fully felt.

VU.CITY currently holds monthly talks at the New London Architecture Exhibition near Tottenham Court Road to showcase its platform. Have a look at their website here for exact dates.

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