News & Insights

3D technologies bring a new dimension to urban development

Sometimes you need to take problem solving to a new dimension – a third dimension.

South Coast Drafting and Design Manager, Justine Wallis and her team have been using technologies like 3D visualisation and 3D printing to present urban development design solutions to clients in new ways that are overcoming communication barriers and helping stakeholders to visualise engineering design documents more clearly.

“Engineering documents are usually aimed at gaining development approvals and inform the construction process, so they are not usually presented in a way that helps people ‘see’ how a design might look in the real world,” Justine said.

“In 2015 we were working with a client to design a master planned community and they were struggling to obtain approval for the development.

“The local council were having difficulty conceptualising the design solution we had presented via traditional engineering documents, so we came up with a 3D visualisation that showed how the development would look and interact with the local environment.

“The model allowed everyone to see the design in a new way and it sparked the conversation that led to approval of the development – and we thought ‘ah, we’re onto something here’.

“We began looking deeper into 3D technologies and found a program that was being used for mostly road infrastructure projects that looked promising.

“We then worked in consultation with AutoDesk Australia to create workflows to allow us to better visualise urban development projects within this platform.

Photo of Justine Wallis

Justine Wallis, South Coast Drafting and Design Manager.

“The adapted technology allows us to integrate designs from all the disciplines working on a project into one visual model of the site and includes aspects like roads, landscaping, and buildings within the natural environment.

“Then we can create outputs like visual fly-throughs or 3D rendered videos which allows stakeholders to see a design from all angles in a way that is much more lifelike.

“The programs and work flows we are using are really versatile and once a model is set up it can be used for everything from concept design right through to sales and launch materials,” she said.

This year the team added a 3D home printer to their toolkit to trial in-house model printing. The trial was so successful that the team soon purchased a larger printer and they now provide 3D models for Cardno teams throughout the Asia Pacific region.

“Our 3D printer allows us to print directly from the model so you produce a scale model rather than an artist’s impression of the design,” Justine said.

“These models can be used for client meetings and community consultation events and once they are placed on the table they become a real focal point, allowing people to look at them from every angle and discuss different aspects of the model.

“Many of our 3D models are now on display in client’s offices, council chambers and development authorities, so we’re proud to have been able to develop a physical expression of a design that becomes a legacy item for the project.

“For us, 3D technologies have helped us improve our communication and engagement with stakeholders and solve design problems – but for our clients they are a tangible item that brings their development to life,” she said.