The Yorkshire Dales family who are designing entire cities in Iraq | Cities | theguardian.com
Something improbable is happening in the Yorkshire Dales. In a converted barn, nestling in the hills high above the market town of Sedbergh, with the fresh smell of cut hay in the air, a small family firm of architects is rebuilding Iraq. Cities ravaged by war and diminished by years of neglect under Saddam Hussein, such as Nasariyah, Kut and Kufa, are being reimagined, virtually, using state of the art 3D-modeling software by specialists in masterplanning nearly 3,000 miles away. […]
Over coffee at his workstation, Elliot demonstrates to me how Esri CityEngine enables the quick creation of large-scale 3D city models. “This used to take ages,” he says, finessing the design of a multistorey car park in a 3D visualisation of London. “It used to take ages to change one paramater. Now you can do it at the click of a mouse.” He quickly creates a purportedly Iraqi residential district on his screen, giving projected houses shady courtyards, frontages fringed with date trees and roof-top air cons and water tanks. Then he starts to draw a road on screen. “All the data I’ve put in the rule files means that it will automatically tell me how much it will cost to build that road that way. And then if I get feedback from Iraq saying ‘Move the road slightly to the left’, I can do that easily and at the same time learn what that change will mean in terms of costs and other parameters.” To my eyes, there’s a touch of the pleasure of playing video games to Elliot’s work – certainly it looks like great fun.
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