Computer models do not necessarily make it easier to be a landscape architect, but they do provide a number of advantages. Here Schønherr tells how they use 3D models to aid better dialogue between architects and engineers.
Great landscape architecture becomes a part of its environment. Behind each small or grand landscaping design lies countless hours of sketching and considering different solutions. One of the methods used in this process is 3D modelling. However, 3D modelling is not just a tool for architects, it has also found a new function – as a means of communication.
Enter Schønherr – one of Denmark’s biggest landscape architecture firms. They create outdoor spaces for museums, urban spaces and much more. In their work process, they draw 2D sketches and then make 3D models to create the best possible landscape design. Frank Hasling Pedersen works at Schønherr as a landscape architect and BIM manager. He tells how 3D is fast becoming an integral part of landscape design.
“We use 2D sketches in our day-to-day work, while 3D models become useful when we work with other professions. In the last couple of years, the technology has evolved a lot, but we primarily like to use it because of its cooperation possibilities,” says Frank Hasling Pedersen.
A vital cog
3D models are useful when there is a desire to integrate outdoor areas with buildings and infrastructure. Then, the models become a language for aiding communication between architects and engineers. This is eminent in a current project Schønherr is working on that involves them designing the outdoor areas for a new hospital in Denmark. Here, it is vital that the outdoor area is as much a part of the hospital as the inside.
“3D models are great tools for when we are working with engineers and architects on a building project. They make 3D models of the project, while we do our own model and this gives us a way of communicating with them so that we can discover the complex meeting points,” says Frank Hasling Pedersen.
When Schønherr begins a new project, the first thing they do is to check the area on Google Earth. Hereafter, they study geo-maps from the Danish government and then, they call in a surveyor to measure the land using laser technology. Schønherr receives height notations from the surveyor and they use this information to can make a 2D sketch and then a 3D model.
Causing a loss of imagination
Although 3D models break down barriers between different professions in the building industry, the models do not necessarily help the creative process.
“When we draw a sketch or build a cardboard model, we have to imagine the finished product. It is a different feeling than we get from the smooth textures of a 3D model. There is less imagination involved in 3D, although 2D drawings are not necessarily better. However, there are advantages in both and we use each for their own purpose,” says Frank Hasling Pedersen.
Schønherr uses a wide palette of programs for their landscape design, including AutoCAD LT, which is still the most used platform for conventional 2D design, Bentley Microstation, Sketchup, Rhino and Archicad with the Land4 plugin, which are increasingly used for 3D modelling.