The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


CASA Working Paper 3


1 June 1998

GIS and Urban Design

Although urban planning has used computer models and information systems since the 1950s and architectural practice has recently restructured to the use of computeraided design (CAD) and computer drafting software, urban design has hardly been touched by the digital world.

This is about to change as very fine scale spatial data relevant to such design becomes routinely available, as 2dimensional GIS (geographic information systems) become linked to 3dimensional CAD packages, and as other kinds of photorealistic media are increasingly being fused with these software. In this chapter, we present the role of GIS in urban design, outlining what current desktop software is capable of and showing how various new techniques can be developed which make such software highly suitable as basis for urban design. We first outline the nature of urban design and then present ideas about how various software might form a tool kit to aid its process. We then look in turn at: utilising standard mapping capabilities within GIS relevant to urban design; building functional extensions to GIS which measure local scale accessibility; providing sketch planning capability in GIS and linking 2-d to 3-d visualisations using low cost net-enabled CAD browsers. We finally conclude with some speculations on the future of GIS for urban design across networks whereby a wide range of participants might engage in the design process digitally but remotely.

This working paper is available as a PDF. The file size is 1.57MB.

Authors: Michael Batty, Andrew Hudson-Smith, Martin Dodge, Bin Jiang

Publication Date: 1/6/1998

Download working paper No. 3.