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P2P Urbanism: CtySketch

Derek Pung

- Assoc. Prof. Patrick Janssen (Dr.)

Face-to-Face participatory discussions often need to be combined with digital support tools in order to get the best results. Modern Information and Communication Technologies allow complex digital models to be rapidly generated and analysed. It can provide immediate feedback to complex problems that may otherwise take longer in conventional consultations. However, physical workshops often present scalability issues and may not be accessible to everyone in the community. A new method is required to allow hundreds of groups to be making proposals for different urban sites all over the city.


This research uses the design of urban spaces as a vehicle to explore this new novel methodology for citizen participation in urban design. Citizens can provide a vision for the type of urban space that would serve the community while still meeting the desired gross floor area (GFA) for the development.


The thesis presents a vision-based Tangible User Interface that was designed to facilitate a two-phase approach to test the hypothesis. The analogue-digital process will make use of inexpensive paper material and commonly accessible technology like a modern camera-enabled phone. Citizens will use a paper-cutting approach to shape the urban space within an urban block and use the phone as the processing agent. A three-dimensional visualisation of the urban block may then be viewed on the phone or the computer.  Preliminary tests with users showed promising results, as participants were able to create diverse types of urban spaces.

Supervisor's comments:

Citizens need to be engaged in the design of their own cities. One approach is participatory design workshops. However, these types of workshops are not scalable and exclude many people. This thesis proposes a new type of hybrid methodology that incorporates both a physical 2D modelling process and a generative 3D digital process. Citizens gather in small groups and create 2D urban plans with paper, and then upload photos of the plans to a web-app, called CtySketch. Within a few seconds, the photos are analyzed in the cloud and converted into complex 3D models, with the results being displayed back to the citizens. You can explore the environment: .

- Assoc. Prof. Patrick Janssen (Dr.)
Derek Pung

All is well.