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Virtual Environments

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Visual Communication in Urban Planning and Urban Design

3.2 Photorealistic Visual Communication

3.2.1 Virtual StreetScape

Figure 21 illustrates "The Virtual Streetscape" an example of the use of QTVR to visualise the built environment. Developed as a demonstration project of the MIT Department of Urban Studies & Planning's Computer Resource Laboratory, the Virtual Streetscape illustrates how 360 degree panoramic views can be linked to aerial photographs to create a linkage between more traditional, two dimensional images and three dimensional VR scenes.

Figure 21
Figure 21. "Virtual Streetscape" (Computer Resource Lab, Dept. of Urban Studies & Planning, MIT)

3.2.2 Wired Whitehall Virtual Urban Interface System

Wired Whitehall integrates information relating to the built environment through photospatial scenes using hot linking software by Jutvision (, and as shown in Figure 22, is similar in concept to the Virtual Streetscape.
Wired Whitehall is being developed to integrate real world planning data behind its visual interface into a Virtual Urban Information System. The user will be able to `click' on a building within the photorealistic scene and obtain detailed planning documents.
While the use of photo-realistic VR scenes on the WWW provides a visual way to communicate planning information its use is limited. To be able truly to communicate planning and urban information, the end user should be able to interact with objects within the same environment.
To allow this, representations of real world objects can be placed within the panoramas. This object placement augments the actual with the proposed thus allowing an end-user to simulate or visualise proposed change in a specific location. This technique is encompassed within the broad term of Augmented Reality (AR) (Tuceryan et al 1995).

Figure 22. Wired Whitehall Virtual Urban Interface System

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