Enhancing Design through Context and the Cloud

| April 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Mike DeLacey

A new wave of technology released in the past year is about to take the design world by storm. Gone are the days of two-dimensional water color drawings used to show what a project will look like once completed. Context-based design – through the use of reality capture and rapid conceptualization – and the creation of advanced analysis and design alternatives powered by cloud computing, will transform the landscape architecture and civil engineering industries.

From the landscape design perspective, these new technologies enable architects to rapidly generate context for their designs and participate in the BIM process in ways previously unforeseen. Using reality capture, it takes just hours to create a photomap point cloud. When imported into a program like InfraWorks, schemes and designs, which can be transformed into visualizations, are generated in a matter of minutes. But in addition to creating three-dimensional images with ease, context-based design allows for their manipulation in real-time across multiple devices, increasing productivity as well as collaboration.

For example, imagine designing a new subdivision. While onsite, an architect can walk around with an iPad and manipulate the design in real-time, placing landscape items like bushes, trees and benches throughout the model. This allows landscape architects to make changes instantly, incorporating extremely realistic, real-world conditions into the design process on the spot. These results at the reality capture level can then be incorporated into more specialized applications. After the placement of these landscape items has been located on the model, they can then be loaded into AutoCAD Civil 3D and applied to other construction documents.

For civil engineers, cloud computing is enabling sophisticated and advanced analysis and design alternatives. For instance, when designing a road in plan and profile view, products and technologies running in the cloud can optimize the design by analyzing it against hundreds of different variables. This also provides civil engineers with the ability to rapidly generate high-quality visualizations of their designs, allowing for even greater project analysis.

Over the next 12-24 months, these technologies will become commonplace. Though not many professionals in the industry are using these tools yet, everyone from homebuilders and utility companies to retail organizations and large architectural firms will be impacted by this trend. As a growing number of landscape architecture and civil engineering professionals adopt these tools, it will certainly be exciting to see the creativity they unleash.

Mike DeLacey is Principal at Microdesk

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