Fig. 5 a The modern 2-story house in SketchUp. b The GIS 3D environment in ArcGlobe—
aside from the obvious, the green polygon designates reserve area
2D footprints from the original plan as guidance—the latter were replaced by the
3D SketchUp models. Figure 5 shows a SketchUp model of the modern 2-storey
house used in the 3D models, also the final subdivision model in ArcGlobe. The
final model also has a draped orthophoto as well as the other features (e.g. road
edges). Tsiliakou et al. ( 2013 ) describe a similar process from 2D cadastral data to
3D model, with Esri City Engine as the end destination for the data.
Each of the nine tiles was imported into the OpenSimulator environment, which
powers the New Zealand Virtual World Grid (NZVWG), an open access grid.
OpenSimulator is an open-source server platform for hosting the virtual world,
used with the one of the client viewers Imprudence/Hippo OpenSim Viewer. In
this way the 768 m × 768 m area of terrain was transplanted from the GIS envi-
ronment, carrying with it other embedded parcel, road and boundary geographic
information, sufficient for subsequent virtual world building to occur.
Figure 6 shows a visual representation of this embossed guide terrain, and the
limit of the area to be virtually developed. Figure 7 shows a closeup of one of
the developed properties in OpenSim within the boundaries, featuring the man-
made and vegetation objects that form part of the design in the VE and the avatar,
the digital representation of the user, which is used to explore and assess the VE.
Figure 8 shows an aerial view of part of the finished interface, featuring the subdi-
vision zone and environs.
This procedure can be defined as developing an entity based three- dimensional
model consisting of buildings, public spaces and transport systems, the key ele-
ments for urban designers when building a visual simulation for their design
(Zhang and Moore 2014 ). In terms of the dwellings modelled, the external form
and dimensions principally referenced three generic house plans, specifically
two 2-storey styles, one traditional, one modern, and the other is bungalow style.
Figure 9 shows the dwelling in the VE that is based on the bungalow style. Virtual
object examples of the other two types can be seen in Fig. 8 and specifically in
Fig. 7 (modern 2-storey house).