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Hydro Tasmania Consulting Wins BE Award For Photorealistic 3D Model Of Hobart’s Scenic, Historic Tasmanian Waterfront


Hydro Tasmania Consulting, a leading global provider of expert engineering and environmental services, has won a BE Award for its accurate, photorealistic 3D model of Hobart’s scenic and historic waterfront in the Australian state of Tasmania. The firm’s model enabled city planners and the public to visualize various development concepts for 15 potential waterfront sites.

“3D computer visualization provides councils and planning authorities with an accurate means of visually assessing proposed developments in the city environment,” explained Hayden Foley, geospatial administrator for Hydro Tasmania
Consulting. “Justifications and explanations of such decisions to the general public are easier to make when the city’s future developments are shown from various viewpoints as computer simulated 3D models.” In the case of Hobart, the 3D visualization helped the entire community evaluate how development concepts would impact the appearance, activity, mobility, and infrastructure requirements of a critically important area of the city.

Since its settlement as a penal colony in 1804, the deepwater port of Hobart has evolved into a central hub of economic, cultural, and spiritual life. Planners had identified for potential redevelopment waterfront sites, as well as public and private properties, that were underutilized or undeveloped.

In the past, development proposals often had been rejected because the city failed to produce a clear vision for the waterfront’s future. Seizing the opportunity to create a world-class urban waterfront, the Hobart City Council, Hobart Ports Corporation, and the Tasmanian state government set up the Hobart Waterfront Project to develop an Urban Design Framework (UDF) for assessing development proposals.

The state contracted with Hydro Tasmania Consulting to build an accurate, photorealistic 3D model incorporating the draft UDF building envelopes for the 15 sites earmarked for possible development. The model allowed planners to generate images that illustrate how the landscape would change and what the visual impact would be if developers built in accordance with the UDF guidelines. The model also made clear the potential consequences of development concepts that did not conform with the UDF.

Hydro Tasmania captured spatial data using detailed photogrammetric surveys, orthorectified aerial photography, building façade photography, architectural plans, field surveys, and state mapping data. Bentley software enabled the designers to collate and compile these diverse inputs into a spatially referenced and accurate 3D model.

As Foley explained, “Bentley provided user-friendly and intuitive software for this project that fully supported the three-step process to building urban 3D models. MicroStation has proven it is the best tool for the job, as it achieved high levels of realism while maintaining the spatial integrity of the underlying data.”

The project’s three-step modeling process included data acquisition, data processing, and specialized output. Bentley’s fully integrated and interoperable software provided seamless data transfer among the surveyors, photogrammetrists, and CAD professionals. Spatial data captured from disparate sources flowed directly into the common DGN format, enabling post-processing in the CAD environment.

As part of the community consultation process, the 3D model was displayed in a public square in a large-screen, broadcast-quality format as a continuous loop video incorporating animation, time-lapse imaging, and panoramic views of the waterfront. In addition, a stand-alone touchscreen kiosk in the city council offices incorporated a user-friendly Web browser for exploring the visuals via a locality map with hyperlinks.

The 3D model and draft UDF were exhibited for three months. Community feedback made it clear that the citizens of Hobart wanted a visionary plan that would set guidelines for design excellence. Several months later, the Tasmanian government released the final Hobart Waterfront Urban Design Framework, providing the fundamental concepts and principles to guide development.

The photorealistic 3D model continues to serve as a reminder of the people’s vision for Hobart Waterfront’s future. The visualization tool currently is used to address urban design and planning issues related to streetscapes, landscapes, sightlines, and privacy, as well as for emergency planning and response tasks.


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