The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Smart Socio-Economic Planning: Dynamic multiscale 3D modeling for socio-spatial policy formulation

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm, 06 March 2019

Smart Socio-Economic Planning

Event Information

Open to



Prof Haim Yacobi


DPU Room 101
34 Tavistock Square

Join us for a Dialogues in Development in which we will be joined by Dr. Meirav Aharon Gutman (Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning Technion, Haifa) to discuss Smart Socio-Economic Planning: Dynamic multiscale 3D modeling as a new medium for socio- spatial policy formulation.

This is an Urban Transformations research cluster initiative.

Social planning is an integral component of the process of town planning, bringing to the table a fundamental analysis of issues such as demography, inequality, health, and family size, to name just a few. However, very often social surveys have little effect on the outcome of town planning. As a result, decisions regarding the future of cities are currently relate primarily to the built environment. Social surveys fail to generate relevant professional infrastructures for shaping spatial policy in a direct and meaningful way.

The aim of the proposed study is to mainstream social planning within the realm of town and regional planning. This will be accomplished by using an innovative technology – the virtual sand table – as a visual means for better understanding spatial-social relations. I claim that advanced technologies, especially the environment of virtual reality (VR), create new opportunities to enrich our toolbox and to better address the challenges of social and spatial integration. The virtual sand table uses a dynamic 3D simulation within a unique laboratory known as VizLab, which facilitates a VR environment with 3D visualization and produces an immersion experience. This simulation will enable the movement of elements and resources in space, while dynamically analysing the significance of real-time actions. Our preliminary results illustrate how this unique  3D modelling system integrates the spatial and the social into a single layer referred to as social topography - a concept we reintroduce here as the visual language of the new dynamic virtual sand table. Thus, the virtual sand table with its strong visual component, is bound to become a new medium for social planning that will ensure the consideration of social problems in master plans. This proposal’s innovation lies in bringing together an advanced VR platform with 3D simulations and creating an interface between these and a theory of social planning.

The research plan include three stages: 1) Technology (establishing the virtual sand table; 2) Translation (reshaping the model to be a 3D model of social topography); and 3) Testing and evaluating (simulation of the dynamic model within the framework of a focus group)

Speaker Bio
Meirav Aharon-Gutman is Urban Sociologist, a faculty member at the department of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion. She received her Bachelor’s degree (1998), her Master’s degree (2001), and her Ph.D. (2007) from Tel Aviv University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the Hebrew University (2007) and Columbia University (2008). Aharon Gutman is a Fulbright (twice) and Marie Curie Award scholar. Dr Aharon-Gutman is an  Acting member of the National Council for Planning and Building.