Evaluating procedural modelling for 3D models of informal settlements in urban design activities
Three-dimensional (3D) modelling and visualisation is one of the fastest growing application fields in geographic information science. 3D city models are being researched extensively for a variety of purposes and in various domains, including urban design, disaster management, education and computer gaming. These models typically depict urban business districts (downtown) or suburban residential areas. Despite informal settlements being a prevailing feature of many cities in developing countries, 3D models of informal settlements are virtually non-existent. 3D models of informal settlements could be useful in various ways, e.g. to gather information about the current environment in the informal settlements, to design upgrades, to communicate these and to educate inhabitants about environmental challenges. In this article, we described the development of a 3D model of the Slovo Park informal settlement in the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, South Africa. Instead of using time-consuming traditional manual methods, we followed the procedural modelling technique. Visualisation characteristics of 3D models of informal settlements were described and the importance of each characteristic in urban design activities for informal settlement upgrades was assessed. Next, the visualisation characteristics of the Slovo Park model were evaluated. The results of the evaluation showed that the 3D model produced by the procedural modelling technique is suitable for urban design activities in informal settlements. The visualisation characteristics and their assessment are also useful as guidelines for developing 3D models of informal settlements. In future, we plan to empirically test the use of such 3D models in urban design projects in informal settlements.
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