3D Planning and Design System
Hong Kong is a high-density city, it would be difficult to have a clear grasp of the actual environment if city planning is simply based on 2D plans. With the 3D modelling techniques reaching maturity in recent years, the Planning Department (PlanD) launched the 3D Planning and Design System (3DPDS) last year. By means of a 3D photo-realistic model, the cityscape of Hong Kong is visualised in great detail with the 3DPDS, which can also facilitate town planners to design the future city blueprint for Hong Kong by integrating existing planning information. Here, I have invited the Chief Town Planner (Information System and Land Supply) of the PlanD, Mr LIU Kam Ming, Silas, to tell us about the development process and the main functions of the 3DPDS.
Large-scale aerial photo-taking for the production of 3D city models
The PlanD has been working on the development of the 3DPDS since December 2015. A professional team was hired to capture photos of about 43,000 buildings on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula from a helicopter mounted with 5-lens or 12-lens cameras. A total of more than 340 000 photos were taken and the photos were then consolidated into a 3D photo-realistic model with professional software to visualise the cityscape of Hong Kong.
Building a one-stop platform with consolidated planning information
Mr Silas LIU, Chief Town Planner of the PlanD, says that one of the major functions of the 3DPDS is to display various types of data in 3D environments. For example, data of PlanD’s different databases are consolidated into a one-stop information platform for colleagues to search the needed information. The data covered include Outline Zoning Plans, Town Planning Board (TPB) papers, planning restrictions and guidelines, information on declared monuments, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, population growth projection, wind speed and direction, air ventilation assessment. Such data are crucial references for urban planning and design.
Modelling analysis of different planning proposals
According to Mr LIU, since the launch of the 3DPDS for the PlanD’s internal use in February last year, it is generally agreed that the 3DPDS is effective both in saving the time of the planning process and expediting planning decision-making. Town planners can simply input basic planning parameters such as plot ratios, proposed number of blocks, building height, bulk and density to formulate different initial design schemes. By comparing different preliminary schemes, the most suitable option can be identified.
Town planners can also conduct various analyses with the 3DPDS, including Sightline, Sunlight and Shadow, and Skyview Factor Analyses, on different design schemes to review individual schemes from different perspectives and assess the impact of the schemes on the surrounding environment. Colleagues may also simulate the impact of rising sea level on the surrounding environment with the virtual reality testing function. During the TPB’s discussion on proposed amendments to the Draft Causeway Bay Outline Zoning earlier, the proposed amendments were visualised on the 3D photo-realistic model and a video clip was prepared for TPB members’ reference.
Expediting planning decision-making
Mr LIU notes that smart planning and smart tools are essential for smart city development. In the past, a planner would have to make site visits, take measurements and collect data in person or even make hand-drawn illustrations to find out the impact of a proposed development proposal on the surrounding environment. This could take a few weeks or even a few months before we could proceed with the calculations. With the 3DPDS, data can now be analysed right away, greatly facilitating colleagues’ day-to-day work.
Data released to the public for free download
The 3DPDS marks an important milestone for digital technology in urban planning. Since December last year, the PlanD has been releasing the 3D photo-realistic model data to the public gradually for free download. Such data serves a wide range of purposes, professionals may make use of it in the planning process and game developers may need it to develop 3D games. The Government will continue to improve the 3DPDS. It is expected that most of the data will be released to the public to facilitate smart city development in Hong Kong within this year.
30 June, 2019