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$2 million 'virtual' Adelaide to help sell higher density

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The State Government is set to go out to tender for a detailed 3D model of Adelaide’s CBD, inner city and part of the western suburbs which will be used to plan higher density and allow the public to visualise and interact with proposed changes.

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The $2 million funding was included in the State Budget, but InDaily can reveal details of the project’s scope and how it will be used by the Government planners to help deliver their goal of higher density development in the inner city.

Planning Minister John Rau is describing the new model as a “3D interactive replica of the city’s inner ring and extending west to the coast”.

New mapping of the CBD and key development corridors will be completed this financial year, with mapping of the inner suburban ring and western areas to follow over the coming two years.

Rau says the 3D model will be highly accurate to allow a review of planning strategy and property development at the suburb, precinct and individual site level.

The Government will make the model available online to allow the community to better visualise proposed developments and engage with the planning process.

Rau explicitly connected the 3D model to the Government’s 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide, which calls for an increase in urban density on dedicated growth corridors, including the CBD.

This will require more compact development, taller buildings and, he says, an emphasis on “high quality design”.

It will also require – at least politically – the support of the community, and the Government hopes the 3D model will assist on this front.

“Traditionally developments have been planned and assessed with two-dimensional plans, and engagement with the public has relied on ‘artist impressions’ to visualise the impact,” Rau said.

“3D modelling is used around the world with great success and will allow the public to visualise a proposal and how it will fit with the existing streetscape.

“A virtual city model builds on the transition to e-planning, which will make our planning system more efficient and accessible.”

The tender is likely to attract attention from local, interstate and overseas companies, with French industrial giant Dassault Systemes already expressing interest in creating a new 3D model of Adelaide for planning purposes.

Dassault executives were in Adelaide today to sign a memorandum of understanding with local engineering company LogiCamms.

Rau said today the Government would be discussing a number of projects with Dassault during this week’s visit including “digitisation of cities”.

Detailed 3D models of Adelaide already exist, including this one created by South Australian company Aerometrix.

However, in response to questions from InDaily, the Government insisted the new model would be broader in scope, higher resolution and more detailed than previous versions.

It will also be integrated with data from the SA Planning portal and with other State Government land use data, to provide a comprehensive look at approved, proposed and recently constructed developments.

Dassault has been pitching its “smart cities” concept to the South Australian Government and local media.

The company, which is a partner of fellow French company, the Naval Group, on the multi-billion-dollar future submarines project to be built in Adelaide, has promised to open a South Australian office.

Dassault has built a 3D interactive “virtual Singapore” for the government of the island-state, which includes every building and even every tree.

It recently showed off its “virtual mayor” product to South Australian journalists, including from InDaily, which uses virtual reality headsets to bring to life an immersive model of a new development in Singapore.

By using laser pointers, participants can interact with the model. With a click, for example, you can “build” a new high-rise – at varying heights – then view the likely impact on wind patterns, overshadowing, public transport needs and commercial requirements sparked by the new development.

Click on the street level, and you can view the building from below. Click again and you can gain a bird’s eye view, or even a view of the city from one of the apartments.

This sort of VR functionality would allow the public to view developments from many angles, as well as provide immediate information about potential impacts of different designs.

The project will go out to tender shortly.

InDaily has approached Dassault and Aerometrix for comment.

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