Vu.City – and townscape assessment in three dimensions

13 Feb 19

Iceni Heritage & Townscape consultants Ailish Killilea and Lewis Eldridge are rolling out Vu.City for the benefit of our clients in 2019.


Townscape consultants have long spent time in the darkened rooms of visualisation specialists, looking at 3D London models to decide where Accurate Visual Representations (AVRs) of development proposals should be created from, or trudging the streets looking for views potentially affected by a tall building proposal. While those models have been an essential resource for nearly 20 years, a new interactive 3D model that can be run directly under license from a townscape consultant’s laptop has been created: Vu.City.*

Iceni Heritage & Townscape consultants Ailish Killilea and Lewis Eldridge are rolling out Vu.City for the benefit of our clients in 2019. After being provided with a 3D model of a proposal, we can place it accurately and then ‘walk’ through the Vu.City model to understand its effects on sensitive views and heritage assets. The beauty of this approach is that it allows the townscape implications of a scheme to be understood at the earliest opportunity and for design modifications to be tested quickly. The outcome is an enhanced design development process, the optimisation of schemes and the opportunity for clients to get the best value out of their sites.

This technology is starting to play a greater role in the planning process. Many London Councils have a Vu.City license, including Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Westminster, while other cities and towns are also being modelled, meaning that Belfast City Council, Birmingham City Council and others are also investing. Historic England also have a license and we know from experience that they and others are already requesting that applicants provide 3D models of proposals so that their effects can be examined earlier.
Vu.City has the benefit of flexibility. If Historic England think a different point in the streetscape should be considered, it can immediately be tested. If a townscape argument is best served by re-producing the experience of the viewer in motion through a kinetic study, this can be created.

It might be too early to say that the era of assessing photo-realistic renderings of a proposal on paper is over, but their days as the primary visual test seem numbered as technology pushes townscape assessment increasingly towards 3D modelling, and beyond it to the brave new world of Virtual and Augmented Reality, where several visualisation specialists are already making inroads. Iceni Heritage & Townscape intend to be at the forefront, and our use of Vu.City is an essential part of that effort.

*Created by Wagstaffs and rights of light consultant GIA

Ailish Killilea Associate,Built Heritage and Townscape

Related insights: