A Henning Larsen team took top prize this weekend at a tech innovation event at Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters, winning ‘Best Overall Project’ for a web app concept that aims to democratize urban planning using augmented reality.
Over the course of three days, Sustainability Engineers Mathias Sønderskov Nielsen, Mikkel Esrup Steenberg, and IT specialist Matthias Tweddell Levinsen connected with Petar Mitev of NBBJ Design to deliver their team’s winning concept, a web app that uses 3D building renders and GPS data to enable local users to visualize and respond to proposed developments in their community.
Drawing on Henning Larsen’s previous research with virtual reality in architecture, the concept utilizes 3D building renders and users’ GPS coordinates to simulate how a new building would look from the user’s location. Through the app, users can manipulate a digital model of the proposed development as placed within its local context, and submit feedback directly to responsible planning committees. The concept addresses a disconnect between city planners and their constituents, applying virtual modeling technology to offer a more immersive visualization of proposed developments, and establishing new channels for giving feedback to building designers and urban planners.
For Mathias Sønderskov Nielsen, the concept gives modern functionality to the Scandinavian value of community-focused architecture.
“We design for communities, and we feel like this application is a new way to explore that commitment,” Nielsen said.
“If we went all the way with this app, it could become a platform to allow real-time dialogue with future building users to source design features they like and dislike, and to facilitate a two-way conversation between community members and the people designing their neighborhoods.”
The competition at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California headquarters marked the 40th organized AEC Hackathon, a series that originated in Silicon Valley in 2013 and is seeking to stimulate new applications of digital technology in architecture, engineering, and construction. Taking place over the course of a weekend, AEC Hackathon team architects and tech developers together to develop and present project concepts during a three-day competition period.
Henning Larsen’s team developed the idea for their winning app at the previous AEC Hackathon at Copenhagen’s BloxHub in late January, working with Bei Chu of Henning Larsen, Ryan Hughes of C.F. Møller and Povl Sonne-Frederiksen of the Aarhus School of Architecture.