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Earlier this year the Urban Development Institute of Australia (NT) ran an event to showcase new 3 D technology which is now available to the industry.  The event included presentations from two companies specialising in the application of 3 D technology, a built-form developer and the Chief Executive of the Department of Lands Planning and the Environment.


The technology is based on survey methodology, but also enables the viewer to see vivid, true-to-life details of views from given reference points (such as the view from the balcony of an apartment which has not yet been constructed).  But the uses extend far beyond that, with the ability to accurately depict flood / storm surge water levels, calculate volumes of earth fill or mining materials on a given site, depict shadows at any given time of day or year, demonstrate routes and distances to shops and other facilities from a given property, show how a given house design will actually look when placed on a given block – the list of applications is exhaustive.


At the moment it is still common to see detailed scale models of various development projects in sales offices.  But the application of this new technology is likely to make the modelling approach largely obsolete, as it now possible to show a three-dimensional image of the finished article, from any given angle, on a screen.


From a developer’s perspective, applications of three dimensional technology begin during the planning phase, enabling the details of the site and various important features to be accurately mapped and depicted on a screen.  This assists with provision of a clear scope of work for the project architect.  It also enables relatively rapid evaluation of the most appropriate designs for a given site – a virtual building in different configurations can be placed on the site and modified until the best outcome has been identified.


Other advantages for the industry include:


  • Modelling of views and movement of the sun / shadows gives a potential buyer a much clearer picture of what they will be getting and may assist to achieve premium pricing for premium outlooks and aspects;
  • People living locally can readily gain an appreciation of how the project will impact on views and shading;
  • Landscaping and any special features of a development project can be depicted as they will appear, enabling potential buyers to see the finished product as a whole, even though the site may currently be occupied by a hole in the ground or an old building;
  • Actual three dimensional images of the finished project may assist valuers and funding bodies to better understand the potential of the project;
  • The ability to demonstrate how the finished product will look may also reduce project approval times;
  • Buyers from interstate, who may have little or no understanding of local NT conditions and vistas, can quickly gain an appreciation of what they are purchasing and how it will fit into the landscape.


The application of 3 D technology can help to reduce development risks, provide the opportunity to build better products, produce significant savings due to reductions in design and construction times and help to build more productive relationships between the development industry and the community.


The Northern Territory Government has already used 3 D technology, for example to promote a better understanding of how new building height limits may affect aircraft operating in and out of Darwin airport.


In many cases the community concerns which are expressed about particular project proposals are based on perceptions of the impacts, rather than on the actual impacts.  In the past it has not been possible to allay concerns about some projects until the project has actually been completed on the ground.  Now the application of new 3 D technology can enable the debate to focus on actual impacts.


The Urban Development Institute of Australia (NT) welcomes the wider availability of 3 D technology to our local development industry and hopes its application will now spread rapidly and become accepted best practice.  Next time you are looking at a potential real estate purchase, it may be worth your while to ask the developer or sales agent whether they can show you how the finished product will look and what you will be able to see from your front door or balcony – in 3 D.