Esri’s CityEngine has brought procedural (rule-based) modeling to the urban scale. Building out of software originally developed by the film industry (yet again: see Maya) to create and simulate vast cityscapes, CityEngine allows the designer to deploy city form and organization through the generation of rule-sets and a variety of base geometries. This opens up the very-real possibility of speculative city-design at a completely new scale and scope.
CityEngine also allows for the integration of 2D GIS data (shapefiles, geodatabases, etc.) into a 3D modeling environment. On the fly updating of GIS data through the CityEngine platform is also possible, as well as output to an interactive web format. This provides a rich platform for running scenarios in the city, working from real-world, real-time data, comprehensive rule sets, intuitive design, interactive commenting and reporting, etc. These rule sets have the potential encompass a wide range of existing and speculative urban planning paradigms. Esri has already developed a number of schema developed including the use of “Urban Transects” a model developed by New Urbanist Andrés Duany:
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