Urban Melbourne's CBD Model in the making

For as long as I can remember, stretching all the way back to my early days on the SkyscraperCity forums, I had a keen interest in how Melbourne was developing. Within the confines of the Hoddle Grid, Southbank and the emerging Docklands precinct the likes of Eureka, Freshwater Place, 121 Exhibition Street, Urban Workshop etc. were under construction simultaneously; the boom acting as a catalyst for public interest.

Fast forward ten years and not much has changed: the behemoth that is Australia 108 is set to rise from the former swampland of Southbank, and there are cranes a plenty dotting the city skyline. With so much development happening the question that is inevitably raised: what will it all look like into the future?

Over the last couple years on Urban Melbourne, I've looked at a number of planning applications and have tried to represent these proposals in-situ, providing context to any particular project. This provides our readers with a greater understanding of their impact upon the city.

I first started a digital model of central Melbourne about eight years ago, beginning with a simple model that I used as a base, and am now about to embark on its third iteration. With a more accurate CAD base to work from - but using a lot of the information from the second model - Rhinoceros 3D will be used for modelling along with the associated Vray plug-in for rendering. The digital model allows for the output of images like these (albeit with some post production in Photoshop):

Rendered Melbourne CBD. © Urban Melbourne
Montague Precinct. © Urban Melbourne

What purpose will the digital model ultimately serve, beyond being able to generate imagery? I think it would be great to eventually see it printed and on display; a resource for the greater public to utilise in order to get a handle on what's happening in and around Melbourne.

The City of Sydney has had one for a good twenty years and although not 3D printed, it sets a pretty decent standard. Both City of Melbourne and DTPLI have digital models but these aren't available to the public or even industry; the subject of a future article no doubt.

Sydney CBD model. © City of Sydney

Naturally a complete model of inner Melbourne will take some time and effort to build, but the end result will be a publicly viewable instrument that will be beneficial in many ways. Stay tuned for model updates in the weeks and months to come.



MelbourneGuy's picture

Looking forward to it Laurence.

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Crz's picture

I foresee a 3D physical model in the next 5 years when 3D printing becomes more accessible.

I am really looking forward to this !

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Andrew's picture

Nice work. You could (somewhat) easily throw it into say, Unreal Engine 4 (A one off $20 payment to download the tools then you can cancel your subscription) and have it inside a game engine to fly or drive around in.

Good work though.

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cesare a leonardi's picture

thank you. very interesting.


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Peter Maltezos's picture

I fondly remember visiting the Astrojet Centre at Melbourne Airport when I was young and admiring the city (Hoddle Grid) scaled model they had there.

There were panels with photographs and descriptions of most of the landmark buildings surrounding the city model that each included a button that when pressed, lit up the building in the city model.

This was popular and I have no idea what happened to it.

It should have gone to the museum or be a core part of a Museum of Melbourne Architecture, hint, hint.enlightened

I collect, therefore I am.

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Adrian's picture

Absolutely fantastic work Laurence had been missing your renders here for a while.

Look forward to seeing the further results your renders are second to none !

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Laurence Dragomir's picture

Thanks for the feedback guys. Will be a long and tedious process but well worth it in the end - or so I keep telling myself.

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Rohan Storey's picture

I think its great that you are willing to do this, be great to see accurate in context images of new proposals, which the developers often dont supply, or even what various streets will look like when approved projects built.

I dont understand however why the Ministry and the City of Melb dont make their models public, or at least renderings of new projects using their models in planning reports (I think they even used one of yours instead in one report !).

Also, while I like the aerial images, I much prefer to see street level images, which are often not done, or done not quite from actual street level, so we can all see what our city streets will look like in the future (including shadows of course!)


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Andrew's picture

Well look at that, Unreal Engine 4 is free for everybody now :p

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