In order to analyse a space and its characteristics, spatial planning makes use of various methods of reconnaissance and investigation. On-site inspections and field surveys are carried out to explore the space and obtain a multi-sensory perception of it. These explorations provide the basis for further analyses and are extremely well suited for generating an understanding of the challenges and problems specific to the space.
The findings and results thus obtained can be analysed in greater detail using analogue mapping, sketches and visualizations and supplemented by additional descriptive and numeric data. CAD and geo-information systems can also be used for digital storage of this analogue data. In this way, data and findings can not only be stored long term but also passed on to others and used elsewhere.
The urban space simulation lab (simlab) develops digital planning environments (visual analytics) as a visual support tool for use in complex planning tasks.
Requirements and government policy goals concerning sustainable conservation of resources are giving rise to the development of new supply, infrastructure and waste disposal technologies (mobility, buildings, thermal and electrical energy, waste water, etc.). As a result, settlement development structures are becoming increasing interdisciplinary and the associated planning processes increasingly complex. Geo-located and geo-locatable data provide an important basic tool to support planners in analysing an existing settlement system, extrapolating future developments and assessing the effects of planning measures. These fundamental data are generated by the built and planned environment and the actors within it.
In order to make use of these fundamental data as a support tool for all parties involved in planning and the associated decision-making processes, the simlab focuses on two essential areas. The first is GIS and CAD-based spatial analysis to elaborate a quantitative and qualitative basis for planning discussions. In order to process the results for use by stakeholders in planning processes and superimpose findings from various other disciplines, a further focus is on spatial visualization of data. The use of interactive systems for spatial visualization allows multiscale, interdisciplinary presentation of the underlying data. At the simlab, information can be presented to planning stakeholders in 2D and 3D. The lab environment provides a parallel stereoscopic view of the scenarios for up to 15 process participants. The simlab thus provides digital support for planning processes and a visual tool that facilitates communication in projects requiring interdisciplinary planning.
Three multi-touch monitors allow simultaneous visualization of the effects of different planning scenarios or developments over various time horizons, and/or simultaneous viewing of pictorial, numeric and spatial information. A rear-projection wall allows simultaneous viewing of spatial visualizations in 2D and 3D for up to 15 people. The lab also has a virtual reality connection for stereoscopic presentation of the planning datasets. As well as 2D and 3D projectors, it is also equipped with an HTC VIVE multimedia headset that allows users to interact in the virtual reality space. The associated software has been specially adapted for planning visualizations and is subject to continuous further development. Naturally, the SimLab is also equipped with all the necessary software to produce CAD and GIS-based urban models and visualize the latter in virtual interactive environments as a planning support tool.
The ongoing projects in which the simlab is involved (the doctoral college „Urban Energy and Mobility System“, URBEM, „Virtual Airport City“, „Blackout“ and „SmartAIRea“, inter alia) are all characterized by interdisciplinary collaboration – both across faculties at TU Wien as well as with project partners from other research institutions, business and the public sector.