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PolyChora Alpha: a new digital interface for interdisciplinary city design - Dr Ying Jin

The aim of this proposed project is to develop a new digital interface to integrate the data and visualisation of the designs of land use, buildings, transport infrastructure and associated urban services at both the neighbourhood and city scale. The interface can also be used to modify a range of aspects of such designs in the course of visualisations by non‐specialists, with underlying building information data stored for feedback to the respective design teams. The focus of the work is the new method and tool for connecting digital data from multiple disciplines.

In the past decade, a variety of data analytics and modelling techniques have been implemented in the planning and design of housing, offices, retail, public spaces, business parks, factories, logistics premises, mixed use neighbourhoods, road and rail projects, traffic control and regulation, emergency responses to events, terror‐attack and natural disasters, etc.

While BIM and associated standards are being implemented within each of the business sectors and disciplines a new challenge is emerging regarding the lack of connections and interface between the datasets. This has severely hampered the progress in co‐design and coordination among the design disciplines, especially in fast growing cities where it is essential to join up the planning of business premises, housing and transport in the design of specific building or infrastructure.

The Cities and Transport Research Group led by Ying Jin at Architecture is leading the world in connecting data and modelling among economists, transport and traffic engineers, housing and neighbourhood planners, urban designers and infrastructure investors in their integrated computer models of cities. Their models have been successfully applied around the world for predicting the effects of planning, design and infrastructure interventions. Ying Jin is currently leading a three‐year ‘Cambridge Futures 3’ modelling study funded by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Cambridge Ahead to design and examine alternative scenarios of workplaces, housing and transport to 2031 and 2051. He is also an expert adviser for BSi and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for data standards including BIM at city scale.

In existing models it requires specialist knowledge from each of the disciplines to specify and modify data inputs that represent alternative designs, and it is costly to produce 3D visualisation portraying the joined‐up city design proposals. This means that only experts can work with the models at present. On some rare occasions in the past (and with considerable expense) the model data was visualised in realistic 3D built form. Such visualisation had proven extremely effective in helping policy makers and the public understand and contribute. However, so far there are no easy, repeatable methods and tools to achieve such visualisation or to record feedback during visualisation.


Department of Architecture

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