Masterplanning workflow

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01-13-2013 04:48 AM
PhilippeMorgan_de_Rivery
New Contributor
Hi Matthias,

I have gone through most of the tutorials for City Engine (an amazing program by the way!) but I was wondering if you could upload some specific information about the following:

- assign some trees to a street and specify an alignment setback and distance between trees (I know that your example video and tutorial on ""Modern streets" contain trees, but the information regarding this specific operation is "drowned" in the complexity of the scene and it would be great to have a step-by-step "how to" tutorial on how to do that.
- same for sidewalks
- I was also wondering if it was possible to produce some paths (for example in a forest, or some internal paths in a block), the same way you produce roads? (I don't know if it is possible to specify another texture)
- Same for gardens/parks, I'm not sure how to do them (I just need polygons with a grass texture).
- I would also appreciate to have a step by step workflow on the different block structures: I have seen on some videos that there seemed to be different styles that we could choose from (L-shaped, U-shaped, etc.) but I can't find where to find these styles in City Engine. Do we need to create them first by ourselves or are they already available? (which would be the best solution for people like me :)

- In general, as long as I don't want to produce some detailed rendering of a specific place, the masterplans we do don't need to be extremely detailed. A workflow with City Engine would be something like that:
1. Import roads centerlines from AutoCAD, import obstacle map
2. Import landmarks and other specific 3D features
3. Generate procedural buildings according to preagreed (cf. rule file) block and building parameters
4. Add roads, usually with sidewalks (with trees when required), add trees for forest, add open space areas

That's basically it. Most of the masterplans we do look like that (these are just examples):

http://www.kpf.com/project.asp?ID=9
http://www.som.com/sites/default/files/beijingbohai.jpg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-A5K5AUkq5LU/TefFR-ohNEI/AAAAAAAABg8/LTyXMLfAuoY/s1600/tianjinEcoCity%2Bmas...

As you can see from these pictures, there are not so many different elements actually: only buildings, roads, sidewalks, trees along roads, open space, pedestrian paths, and sometimes bike paths (which are quite similar to pedestrian paths anyway), forests, bodies of water (sea, river, ponds, fountains...) + landmarks (specific building, bridge, road interchange...)

Do you think it would be possible to do a detailed, step-by-step workflow on how to produce this specific kind of plan with City Engine? It would be really helpful!

Thank you for your answer!

Philippe
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8 Replies
MatthiasBuehler1
Frequent Contributor II
Hi !

Not sure if you have seen the ArcGIS related workflows :
http://www.arcgis.com/home/group.html?owner=CityEngine&title=ArcGIS%20-%20CityEngine%20Workflows


The 'best workflow' usually is adapted to the inputs and needed outputs. So in general, I'd say that CityEngine - if used correctly - can be immensely useful in tasks which lead to designs as e.g. in the beautiful images you've shown as reference.

Though, to help you better in a specific - and less generic - way, I need a little background info on what your 'typical project' starts with.

I have a Master's degree in Architecture, so feel free to use your daily work terminology. ;)

Cheers !

Matt
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PhilippeMorgan_de_Rivery
New Contributor
Hi Matt,

Thanks for your answer, I can see that architecture leads to many paths! :D (I'm actually an urban planner, even if I do more urban design now).

Well, I would like to use City Engine to produce 3D masterplans, so no need to be very detailed as I don't need it for some detailed site plan, but I think it would be a great tool to explore different designs easily and speed up the drafting process.
I upload an illustration plan which is similar to what I would like to achieve:
For this kind of project, my usual workflow would be:
- Print the available CAD data (contour lines, existing buildings and roads, land use...) and draw by hand some plan on it
- Draw the buildings, new roads, location of the trees on roads with trees, open space and any bike paths and pedestrian paths with AutoCAD
- Export to Illustrator and then Photoshop to add colors, trees for forest with brush tool, shadows, water, underlying satellite image, etc.

My model in AutoCAD is usually not georeferenced, but I guess I could georeference it when importing to CE Engine if ArcGIS files are involved.

I think it would be great if I could just draw some centerlines for the roads on AutoCAD, then apply some rule to define their width and the number of lanes + apply a texture (by the way I have looked at the Modern Streets' rule file and I have been able to modify the number of lanes and their width but not the overall width of the street :confused:, i know you can drag the street directly to make it wider but I guess there must be a parameter in the rule to enter a precise number?). After that, I would like to create blocks like the ones in the attached pictures, plus some additional buildings like the ones on the left side (villas in the forest), I don't know if this kind of development with a little path connecting it to the sidewalk could be defined by a rule though?), then define open spaces areas (in most of the blocks, open spaces areas = block outline minus buildings minus paths and sidewalks) and add bike paths as well plus features such as football field (not sure how to color it in City Engine though).

So basically, I would just have the AutoCAD file with my roads and paths centerlines plus some obstacle map for lakes, rivers, etc. and some Sketchup models for a few landmark buildings, and I would use rules to design the rest.

I guess that once you know how to do it it's not so hard but I think that right now it's still a bit difficult for me;)

I would be grateful for any help/advice you could give me!

Thank you,
Philippe

PS I have seen the workflows and the tutorials and they are already helpful I must say, but I need to study them in detail. Same for the Help inside City Engine, which also has a lot of info!
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MatthiasBuehler1
Frequent Contributor II
Hi !

A question in between :

How relevent are GFA and FAR calculations in such a masterplan of yours ? We've been in contact with multiple offices and city administrations which do similar work with CE, so I assume it's also very important for you.

Since the FAR value is GFA / parcel area .. What's such a reference 'parcel' in the image you have posted ? Per 'little block' I see or over the whole project ?

Let me know ..

M.
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PhilippeMorgan_de_Rivery
New Contributor
Hi Matt,

Yes it is important, the client will tell us that for each kind of land use there is a specific FAR, for this specific project they divided all the zone into these little blocks and call them F1, F2, G1, G2, etc. according to land uses (we had to comply with this layout, which of course is often not the case as in other cases we can just create our own street and block pattern by ourselves). Then they give us a specific FAR + a percentage of the block which has to be developed (for instance 40% of the parcel), and a minimum area which has to be developed as "one piece" (as opposed to developing plots here and there which would create some new sprawl). Since they give us the FAR and a percentage of the block to develop, we can infer from that the number of floors each building should have.

But that's not the only way to proceed, many times clients will give us GFA's for each type of land use for the whole project + each specific amenity (theater, tourist center...) they want us to develop, sometimes with a specific number of floors but not always (for instance, they will say: the new development will need to have so many squarefootage of retail, residential and office use, and they will also give us a FAR but without more information).

Anyway I think that in all the projects I have seen or done, rules were turning around these variables, even if all of them were not always given since some can be inferred from the other ones:

- FAR
- Number of floors/height
- GFA
- % of block that has to be developed

Philippe



A question in between :

How relevent are GFA and FAR calculations in such a masterplan of yours ? We've been in contact with multiple offices and city administrations which do similar work with CE, so I assume it's also very important for you.

Since the FAR value is GFA / parcel area .. What's such a reference 'parcel' in the image you have posted ? Per 'little block' I see or over the whole project ?

Let me know ..

M.
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MatthiasBuehler1
Frequent Contributor II
Ok,

Thanks for those detailed inputs.

There's multiple ways in CE to deal with those types of project specific target inputs.. but none of them will actually create the final result for you. :)

I've also been working on ideas which deal with 'reaching' a specific FAR on a parcel, but one of the major issues is that no computer and no software is able to automatically produce 'good designs', neither in urban layouts and nor as generic footprints. They can help you, but in the end you want to have control over the design.

I usually tell people :

CityEngine is good at creating statistics from models. But creating models from statistics is impossible because the computer would have to design for you. That'd be bad. :o

I guess it'd be better to explain some things on a specific project .. There's so many different approaches possible.

m.
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ElliotHartley
Occasional Contributor
Philippe,

Hope you don't mind me jumping into this thread?   I'm working with CityEngine in our city master planning workflows.   If I may plug my recent GeoDesign Summit 2013 Presentation (blogged here "The Instant City" )? :)

The trouble is pinning down where CityEngine is going to be useful.  Thinking about the scale you are working at is vital, with our work we don't need to go very detailed as we're assigning zones, whereas you probably do.   So far CityEngine is doing great things for us in the 3D visualisations area, but it does seem we can make it work elsewhere.   As Matthias says it's not so great at creating good designs, we still have to that!  CityEngine is very good at taking existing data and modelling it and it's the speeding up of feedback about your design (through reporting) as well as the ability to adjust by small increments the model variables that is CityEngine's real power.

To sort of answer some of your questions you can change all aspects of a street model (trees, furniture etc..) based on the object attributes or length or any kind of attribute really.   What you need to do is read the rule file and see where it jumps to.  I find that it's actually quite clear in places what is going on and where you should change elements of the rules.

Here's a strategy I use to edit the Modern Streets rule file, find all references to your chosen edit (trees) then work back to find the point at which the rule places the tree (often it's early on that it splits).   Or as I have done do a case statement like this at the beginning of a rule (Layer is an actual object attribute):
Sidewalk --> 
  case Layer == "National Highway" : SideNH
    case Layer == "Main Street" : SideMS
    else           : SidewalkNormal


Then copy the next rule that the Sidewalk started with and rename it (you might need to rename everything below it too) then you can edit the copy and experiment...


I'll be working on some blog posts with practical workflows for planning in the coming weeks as well to try and articulate that better, hope this helps?

All the best

Elliot
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boycepostma
New Contributor
By now this conversation is quite old, but it is exactly what I am working on and thinking about myself. I read Elliot's recent update on July CE updates, and that is really exciting. It sound like a lot of issues and frustrations are could be worked out in new updates.

It sounds like maybe the starting GIS data that Elliot or Philippe have might be better organized than mine. In the attached screen shot, you can see that my building footprints don't really fit on my lots, and the streets are all independent of the lots. It is kind of a jumbled mess. Is there a way to make the lots run out to the extents of the street? Or the street to the lots? What is the best workflow from people's experience for cleaning up GIS data? Maybe better to work it in ArcMap first?

At first I thought I would be primarily modeling buildings in CE, but the more I look at the model, the more it is actually about all the other stuff, like parking lots, trees, cars, sidewalks, ect.

Thank you so much for the support on here! I am super amateur.

Also - Elliot - you had posted a call for a bit of communal sharing of CGA codes for your initial populating of city scenes. Did that ever happen? Was there any sharing of CGA's? I saw that there may be a new marketplace aspect of the next CE that allows for sale, or general sharing of CGA's, which is cool. You posted about it here:

http://forums.arcgis.com/threads/51652-Creating-a-City-from-GIS-data-Transport-Infrastructure

Thank you !!!!

[ATTACH=CONFIG]25204[/ATTACH]



EDIT:

So I started looking into my base files. If I leave only the streets in ArcMap, as a shapefile, they form lines that I could use to define as streets in CE, and then fill around with lots - then add building footprints. That would close the gaps and tidy up the model, but if I generated the lots, they wouldn't be right - so the question becomes, how do I use my lot shape file to inform but not define the lots in my CE file? Can I manually edit CE generated lot lines?
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ElliotHartley
Occasional Contributor
Sorry I haven't replied to this thread in a while, busy at work.... I'm off to San Diego tomorrow in the meantime the group I setup for sharing is here: http://www.arcgis.com/home/group.html?owner=ejph&title=CityEngine%20Rules%2C%20Projects%20and%20Tool...

It's a bit dead, I was hoping others would share but I think like me they're waiting for someone else to start :)

asterios_polyp - having tidy data is essential, but knowing how to organise for your work is even more important.   You can DM me directly via twitter or about.me/elliothartley if you need some more specific help while I'm at the UC...
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