This research theme comprises two research projects, Computational Design of Architecture & Urban Environments, and Urban Reconstruction.
Computational Design of Architecture & Urban Environments
This project is about the development of software tools for architects, urban planners, designers, civil engineers, or administrators to explore possible solutions to urban design problems. For this research project, we consider multiple factors. Firstly, most practitioners in the field would like to have significant input into the design process. It is therefore our goal to integrate automatic computation and user interaction to leave enough control for the users to influence the design. Secondly, successful tools need to integrate multiple types of potentially competing considerations. On the one hand, there are aesthetic considerations and user preferences, such as the smoothness of architectural surfaces or the designer's preference for straight or curvy streets. On the other hand, there are functional considerations such as energy efficiency, shading, efficient use of space, etc. Addressing these issues, the project pursues the development of algorithms and software for the following goals. Firstly, we address the functional design of transportation networks, which are, among others, constrained by the requirement to connect locations efficiently vs. providing quiet residential areas. Secondly, we address the problem of parceling and generating building envelopes, which, as cities grow, consumes considerable time in the planning process. Thirdly, we address the design of free form architecture, in which the challenge is to balance visual appeal with cost to build.
Urban reconstruction refers to the process of generating three-dimensional models for urban environments. As three-dimensional models, we consider the geometry (typically represented as triangle meshes) and texture information. Given an urban region, e.g., denoted on a map, this project aims at building a complete solution to construct a three-dimensional model starting from a set of images. These three-dimensional urban models are useful for urban planning, architecture, and civil engineering, since they can be used to obtain a good overview of the current state of an urban environment. This is also useful for visualization and for planning future changes to the environment. For example, simulations can be used to evaluate flooding, shading, heat propagation, traffic, pollution, noise, etc., and new plans can be evaluated in the context of the existing environment. Other applications benefitting from this project are mapping on mobile devices, in cars, and on desktop computers. Addressing these issues, the project pursues building an integrated and practical solution to large-scale urban reconstruction. It furthermore aims at creating interactive and automated software tools that take image or LiDAR data as input to extract three-dimensional urban models. The project will then integrate prior knowledge (such as the designer's experience) and interaction in the reconstruction to reduce the time required to model new urban areas as compared to the state of the art.