Spatial Database Management and Generation of VRML Models
The cost of keeping large area urban computer aided architectural design (CAAD) models up to date justifies wider use and access. This paper reviews the potential for collaborative groupwork creation and maintenance of such models and suggests an approach to data entry, data management and generation of appropriate levels of detail models from a Geographic Information System (GIS). Staff at the University of the West of England (UWE) modelled a large area of Bristol to demonstrate millennium landmark proposals. It became swiftly apparent that continued amendment of the model to keep it an accurate reflection of changes on the ground was a major data management problem. Piecing in new CAAD models received from Architectural Practices to visualise them in context as part of the planning negotiation process has often taken staff several days of work for each instance. The model is so complex and proprietary that Bristol City operates a specialist visualisation bureau service. UWE later modelled the environs of the Tower of London to support bids for funding and to provide the context for judging the visual impact of iterative design development. Further research continued to develop more effective approaches to. Data conversion and amalgamation from all the diverse sources was the major impediment to effective group working to create the models. It became apparent that a GIS would assist retrieving all the appropriate data that described the part of the model under creation. It was possible to predict that management of many historic part models stepping back through time, allowing for different expert interpretations to co-exist would be in itself a major task requiring a spatial database/GIS. UWE started afresh from the original source data, to explore the collaborative use of GIS and Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML) to integrate models and interventions from various sources and to generate an overall navigable interactive whole. Current exploration of the combination of event driven behaviours and Structured Query Language is seeking to define how appropriately to modify objects in the VRML model on demand. This is beginning to realise the potential for use of this process for: asynchronous group modelling on the lines of a collaborative virtual design studio; historic building maintenance management; visitor management; interpretation of historic sites to visitors and public planning information.
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