Visualisation as a Model. Overview on Communication Techniques in Transport and Urban Planning

  • Giovanni Rabino Dipartimento di Architettura e Studi Urbani, Politecnico di Milano, IT
  • Elena Masala SiTI - Higher Institute on Territorial Systems for Innovation –Torino, IT
Keywords: Visualisation, Urban models, ICT, Representation


Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) changed the way planners present and operate with their projects. New visualisation tools have changed the ways projects and plans are presented and disseminated. However, the opportunities given by visualisation are not completely exploited in the professional practice. This is due to several bottlenecks which occur in the daily carrying out of activities. The paper is organised in three sections. The first one explains how visualisation can be an added value to the planning practice if it is organised and designed as a framework of information; conceiving the visualisation as a model, data can be managed and represented in order to provide information at different levels of expertise, allowing city plans to be analysed and understood before their realisation. The second section resumes the changes caused by the introduction of ICT within the daily practice; a comparison between pre-digital and digital approaches highlights current opportunities for implementing the communication values of plans and projects. The third part illustrates some examples of innovative visualisations in the urban and transport planning practice, showing a number of uses of visualisation to fit different purposes. The paper concludes this insight formulating the necessity for integrating the studies on visualisation coming from different disciplines into a scientific method that can be proposed as a guideline in building the images of urban and transport plans. This would be particularly useful for obtaining a more scientific approach in the choices of representation and visualisation of urban aspects.


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Author Biographies

Giovanni Rabino, Dipartimento di Architettura e Studi Urbani, Politecnico di Milano, IT

He is professor of Urban Planning at the School of Architecture and Building Engineering of Polytechnic of Milan. He is an acknowledged expert in urban studies, especially applying system theories and methods. His main contributions concern operational urban models, evolutionary theory applied to geographical structures and, recently, web technologies supporting multi-agents planning.

Elena Masala, SiTI - Higher Institute on Territorial Systems for Innovation –Torino, IT

PhD in Architecture, in 2003 Elena Masala starts working as Research Fellow at Politecnico di Torino (Italy).  Since 2010, she carries out her activity at SiTI - Higher Institute on Territorial Systems for Innovation, in the research field of geovisualization. Her experience ranges from 3D modeling to video animations, from Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to interactive visualisation, with a strong experience on virtual environments. Her work aims at supporting spatial planning and decision-making processes by means of visual analysis, data exploration and communication. Her activity focuses on the usability of Planning and spatial Decision Support Systems (PSS and sDSS) to be applied in the operational research. She takes part to some COST Actions and she is author of several publications on both national and international books and journals.


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How to Cite
RabinoG., & MasalaE. (2014). Visualisation as a Model. Overview on Communication Techniques in Transport and Urban Planning. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment.