VuCity: A Virtual Parallel World

VuCity is a software that contains a virtual 3d model of currently 18 major cities in the UK including: London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Belfast, Bristol, Liverpool, Brighton, Cambridge, Sheffield, Oxford, Cardiff, Nottingham and Portsmouth. Buildings are modeled from aerial data allowing a high degree of accuracy for representations of the existing context.

The software can illustrate planning policy embedded in the 3d model with each local authorities planning policies identified graphically including: Conservation Areas, listed buildings, protected and local viewing corridors, sunlight paths, and transport data. Other features include its analysis tools for gathering data about traffic, pedestrian use and air pollution. Public consultations for developments can also be supported allowing the public and local stakeholders to comment on pre-planning proposals. The model is regularly updated with new planning schemes allowing the future townscape to be visualized.

Protected View from Knight’s Hill looking north towards the City of London
Protected View of St. Luke’s tower from Knight’s Hill Norwood

Some of the local authorities in London using the software include: Harringey, Barking and Dagenham, Southwark, Kingston-upon-Thames, and Newham.

London developments that have benefited include: Chobham Manor Queen Elizabeth Park Taylor Wimpey, Stratford Gyratory for TFL/ LB Newham, City of London, London Legacy Development Corporation for the Olympic Park, Affinity Sutton Affordable Housing, Barratt London Catford Green, and Segro Park Rainham.

Available on a subscription basis the software allows architects and planners to import proposed building models to allow them to be assessed in context useful for designing new buildings, assessing schemes for planning applications, and for marketing purposes allowing potential purchasers to interface with a forthcoming building and compare different properties.

Mark Fairhurst Architects first encountered VuCity at a demonstration in the Building Centre, Store Street earlier this year. Adjacent to the impressive New London Architecture model of central London, Vu City offered previews of their product and were able to take us through the main aspects of the software with a brief presentation. Subsequently a free trial of the software has been available over the ‘lock down’ allowing us to become more familiar with functionality.

We have used VuCity to assess existing local views in Lambeth that are currently missing from their data base. Lambeth Council are subscribed to the software and are hoping to use this more widely in developing supplementary planning guidance in the borough.

Aerial View of West Norwood between Knight’s Hill and Norwood High Street

Working with Norwood Planning Assembly VuCity have licensed Mark Fairhurst Architects to use their software in assisting the formulation of the Neighborhood Plan specifically assessing potential development sites and protected views.

As well as its obvious planning uses the software offers a glimpse into the future of virtual and augmented reality with the potential to map elevations onto buildings, model interiors, creating a virtual parallel world.

Aerial View of Norwood High Street and West Norwood Railway Station