Designing in 3D

At Place Laboratory, we’re continually exploring and testing our ideas. 3D is one aspect of the teams innovative approach to conceiving great places.

Detail model of steel framework

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A strong methodology underpinning our work, combined with the creative energy of the office provides a solid foundation from which we can explore the potential of the digital realm. 3D modelling and design is one area that we actively seek innovation.

3D software in landscape architecture and urban design is nothing new. It has been taught as a component of most tertiary landscape courses, with students encouraged to use drafting software and 3D tools to represent and share their ideas.  3D modelling does, however, lend itself more readily to the precision and aesthetic expression of architectural form, rather than landscape. Landscape is more about systems and ecologies occurring across a surface, where interactions and spatial relationships are established horizontally and land is sculpted or shaped to facilitate a desired outcome. Consequently, most of the planning and design can be achieved through the conventional means of Plan, Section and Elevation with 3D modelling only occurring later on in the process and usually as a representation tool.

We have recognised an opportunity to incorporate 3D as a more integral part of the design process and project delivery. Yanchep Golf Estate is an example of a project where the advantages of this digital medium was utilised in a number of ways.

  • Testing of early concepts and ideas
  • Understanding levels and spatial arrangements
  • Modelling civil earthwork design including lot levels, road levels, drainage and existing levels (tree   retention).
  • Modelling flood storage capacity and volumes within verge swales and bio-retention areas.
  • Representing and sharing ideas – illustrative perspectives
  • Formal studies of landscape elements – Climbing Trellis, Feature Walls.
  • Design development – material interfaces, level transitions, coordination with consultants
  • Detail design – structural drawings, fabrication and cladding.

From initial concepts and testing of design ideas, we progress to design development – where spatial arrangements are established and interfaces and materiality choices are refined and analysed in greater detail. It is at this stage that 3D modelling also has a role to play. Consultants’ information such as Civil’s infrastructure, grading and service requirements or the Architects’ built form is fed into the model. This then allows us to better integrate with the landscape design, and appreciate a wide range of inputs and complexities in a three dimensional virtual environment.

Even at detail design stage, 3D was used to document a number of landscape structures and elements. Complex forms such as the timber wave wall in a key open space area relied on rhino software to accurately determine the layout of its steel framework.

3D software is becoming increasingly sophisticated, with new features and tools providing better relevance to landscape architecture. Our package of choice is Rhinoceros by Robert Mcneel & Associates – modelling software with a wide application ranging from Industrial Design and Architecture to Jewellery and Automotive Design. The program lets us easily move from concept ideas and sketches on paper to formal studies and three dimensional spatial understandings in a short time frame. It also offers limitless possibilities when exploring surfaces and forms with an intuitive interface and clever modelling tools allowing us to create increasingly complex forms and spaces.

3D is one aspect of the teams innovative approach to conceiving great places. In terms of workflow and ideas, the digital realm is offering new possibilities in how we work, enabling us to create thriving places designed for people and communities.

One Response to “Designing in 3D”

  1. Avatar for JJ JJ says:

    Hey Mike
    The possibilities of 3D are endless, and it is great to see it being used as a design tool to give space some proper form especially in landscape architecture. How often have we see designs that feel like 2D with extruded wall!

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