For those of us excited about the potential for Streetmix, there is a new app on the horizon to explore. Using the Unity 3D video game engine, Spencer Boomhower from Portland firm Cupola Media created what amounts to a 3D simulation of a streetscape.
The simulation allows you to pan and zoom, and also change the dimensions of streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes ala Streetmix. You can try one of Boomhower’s offerings by clicking on the photo below. If you haven’t downloaded it already, it will prompt you to download the Unity Web Player.
You can see that this is clearly a work in progress, but it has the potential to change the way public space planning is done, as planners will be able to effectively immerse the community in a project in a way that 2D representations cannot do. 3D city rendering programs like ESRI CityEngine already exist, but this appears to be the first program that users can quickly change characteristics of different features of the urban environment. While not yet as easy to customize as Streetmix, or customize at all actually without knowledge of the Unity Game Engine, perhaps in the near future a tool will come out that will enable us to immerse ourselves in our own streetscapes and allow us to better highlight what they could become.
Check out this People for Bikes article about Boomhower’s project here, and check out the interview below for more information.