This project used ESRI CityEngine to visualize and test urban form regulations on neighbourhoods in Metro Vancouver. The images above are tests with random height variables and do not reflect any actual plan. Aside from rendering, the procedurally generated blocks also output total floor areas, envelope areas, building volumes, floor-space ratios (FSR), and projected population.
What is CityEngine?
Esri CityEngine is a three-dimensional (3D) modeling software application developed by Esri R and D Center Zurich (formerly Procedural Inc.) and is specialized in the generation of 3D urban environments. Wikipedia
How is CityEngine different from other modeling and community visualization software?
CityEngine can automatically generate geometry based on programmable rules. CityEngine is like 3D Studio Max, SketchUp, or any other 3D modeling program combined with procedural rules established with code. Those who are familiar with Grasshopper in Rhino will find it to be a similar concept, except on an urban scale, rather than a building/product scale.
Why use CityEngine?
CityEngine can instantly visualize the impacts of design guidelines. It is extremely useful for analyzing massing, set-backs, and heights. With further coding and a more proficient user, one can test façade designs, colour schemes, street furniture and other detailed design elements.
While CityEngine is great for testing infinite iterations of predefined variables across a large area, it not well suited for testing manual, complex changes on particular sites. Such exercises would still be simpler to carry out in SketchUp.