Transects: A Lot of Modeling Over a Little Area


Download the Tutorial (310k)  – or in CityEngine, go to Help > Download Tutorials, look for and check “Example Planning 02 3D Transect 2016.0”, then click Finish to download. 

One of the most useful CityEngine tutorials I’ve come across so far involves a Transect, a cross-section sampling of terrain and habitat that runs the spectrum from natural and rural through suburban, and on to the urban core.  I first encountered transects as a sampling method while working on my GIS Master’s. In researching this tutorial, I came across some interesting background:

  • The modeling in the tutorial was done over a diagram by Andres Duany in his book “The Smart Growth Manual” (Andres Duany, Jeff Speck et al. ISBN 978-0071376754).
  • Andres Duany is on the board of the Center for Applied Transect Studies (CATS). Transects and their utility are described here.
  • A VIDEO by The Pawtucket Foundation shows transect methodology as a basis for regional planning. (Note: the ominous opening music tag alarmed my cat)
  • A VIDEO of the transect model run through the Unreal Studio rendering engine. If you don’t know what a rendering engine is, you need to look. Latest versions of CityEngine will export to Unreal.

A transect is a great way to pack a lot of learning across a small extent — the diagram represents an area of 765 x 255 meters or ~2500 x ~835 feet as measured in CityEngine. That is a much easier area to track and comprehend versus a huge cityscape.  The diagram is also similar to drawings I would get from landscape architects or city planners for fleshing out concept designs, except that is lacks geolocation.

My next task is deconstructing and analyzing the 24 interacting cga files that cover this small area, and creating a set of rules that will cover my own modeling needs.

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