Cube Cities Blog

The Cube Cities Blog

18 April 2013

3D Buildings Without Google: New Technology From the Taipei City Government

3D Taipei - From Local Government
The Urban Planning Department at the Taipei City Government has recently launched an innovative Google Earth website for exploring Taipei's urban fabric. The application uses a low-texturing technique for mass generation of 3D building models. Their concept is to use as few different image textures as possible to keep the models file size small enough to load and unload rapidly as the user flies through the city. As demonstrated in the video below, the buildings flash onto the screen in white and are quickly rendered with simple textures. In fact, the textures are so simple they could be said to resemble a low-pixel video game like Mindcraft. The simple texturing is just enough to appreciate the building materials and most architectural elements. This technique is combined with an implementation of data regionating that intelligently draws only the 3D buildings within the user's range of view.

The user experience is an effective street-level understanding of neighbourhoods, but the trade off is not having the ability to sense urban density by gazing across the virtual skylines found in Google's 3D building imagery. The Urban Planning Department has also included a purple massing layer that illustrates urban density and allows users to click any building and find data points on structural height and building type.

Low Texture, High Efficiency 3D Building Models in Taipei 

Taipei Massing Model
Sample user experience:

Find a link to the Urban Planning Department's 3D mapping website here. Note that it is built on a Microsoft platform that uses web elements specific to Microsoft's ASP framework and works only with Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox do not work. The site is entirely in Chinese but is easily navigable.

1 comment:

  1. The set of 3D buildings, which covers the fully Taipei city area, is generated through the use of a program developed by our team. The process of generating the 3D buildings is fully automated - using building footprints with height (z-value) , aerial Imagery and façade texture database.
    With image process technique, approximately 98-percent of building models display accurate roof texture. The façade of building model are textured with an image found to closest resemble the one in the pre-build texture database by comparing them to the corresponding Streetview image obtained through the authorized use of Google Map API.
    The kml file link:

    Shu-kuo Sun, Ph.D