VU.CITY won the Best in Property category at this week’s Digital Impact Awards. Held in the Brewery, Moorgate, and hosted by eclectic author, broadcaster and former MP, Gyles Brandreth, the Wagstaffs team and our clients had a fantastic evening of jokes, joviality and celebration. For the second year running, Wagstaffs claimed the Gold prize at the awards, securing our place as one of the best digital agencies focused on the property and infrastructure sectors. Each year, the Digital Impact Awards champion and reward those campaigns truly making a difference to the digital communications world. Now in its seventh year, the record number of entries and high standard of submissions given over to the judging panel highlights the extent to which the digital communications industry continues to innovate. Roll on 2017!
We were delighted to be invited to present VU.CITY, Live from The Shard, as part of BBC Future’s recent Open House series. In such an iconic location, our MD Jason Hawthorne explained how our highly accurate interactive model of the city, spanning more than 200 sqkm, is helping to inform the debate around future development in London. 40,000+ views of this film and counting!
As the UK braces itself for the uncertainty following Brexit, it is more important than ever that London looks at imaginative ways to address the housing crisis. A new report* by Grant Thornton UK LLP and campaign group London First found that more than 72 per cent of employers in London were concerned about the impact high housing costs would have on staff recruitment and retention. To keep up with demand we will have to fundamentally alter parts of London to build more housing. And illustrating proposed developments using 3D digital models, so that residents can visualise them, can help to secure support. The models can also help us to make better decisions by allowing us to see the cumulative impact of large scale housing development in context. Grant Thornton’s report revealed 84 per cent of businesses believed that high housing costs posed a risk to the capital’s economic growth and that one in five firms were considering moving their business out of the capital to cope with the pressures of high housing costs. A truck was even spotted bearing a billboard where the Freie Demokraten invited start-ups to keep calm and move to Berlin, following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. It is crucial that we encourage businesses to stay in the capital city to ensure London’s survival as a centre for economic growth, now more than ever. But if young people and businesses are priced out of the market, it could damage London’s long term viability. In another report released by London First, carried out by the law firm Dentons, it calls on City Hall to become a more muscular body, which acquires land from public bodies and uses compulsory purchase powers, where appropriate, to get homes built. It argues the Mayor’s task force, Homes for London, should assemble sites around core public land holdings and set out an acceptable level of density for development. Grant Thornton’s report meanwhile suggests businesses could buy properties for employees or offer a credit facility to help meet the costs of a season ticket. London needs to build around 50,000 homes a year to keep up with demand. But where will these homes be located? What will they look like? How will local infrastructure cope? What sort of density would be appropriate and how tall should these buildings be? What will our skyline look like in the years to come and how will this change the character of London? And what about historic views of the city? What impact Brexit will have on London’s property market and construction industry remains to be seen, but the city’s housing crisis remains as deep as ever. Grant Thornton and London First came up with a raft of suggestions to battle the housing crisis in their recent reports. But another way to plan London’s development and help to answer the complex questions around development is by using a digital model to achieve an overview of the capital from macro to micro. Recognising the need to digitally model all of central London and create a world-class city map, VU.CITY was the culmination of work over the past few years, combining our digital visualisation tools, with Vertex Modelling’s experience of accurately modelling London for over 10 years. It is a joint venture between Wagstaffs, GIA and Vertex Modelling. VU.CITY is the first-ever fully interactive 3D digital model of London, covering more than 160 square kilometres of Central London. Digital models can help us do a lot more than just visualise London. You can overlay data interactively, toggling between existing and consented developments, offering a macro and detailed understanding of the planned development in London. This would help us to understand the cumulative impact of housing development in context. The model can be used to overlay sightlines, the London View Management Framework, transport links and sunlight paths to help the council planners understand proposals in context, as well as embedding, live data feeds such as traffic cameras. In a city that needs to grow, visualising the data that is available to us is the only way to effectively plan London’s evolution. Using a 3D digital model will help to answer some of the questions around new developments, see their impact and inform how we can come up with solutions. This new technology will future proof London in a way that has never been seen before. * Released in July by Grant Thornton UK LLP, working with campaign group London First.
What will London look like by 2035? Very different to how it looks today – that much is certain. It also seems certain that in the years between 2016 and 2035 we will need to make difficult and complex decisions about our built environment. This week alone the topic has hit the headlines as new London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he wants 50 per cent of all new homes in London to be affordable whilst the Skyline Campaign and a number of architects called for a six-month moratorium on tall buildings in the capital. Where will new homes go? Should tall towers be built? These and others are questions that VU.CITY – London’s first fully interactive digital model – helps us answer, and this week the team behind VU.CITY has been speaking at the Geo Business Show, giving us a glimpse of what London may look like by 2035. VU.CITY uses ground-breaking technology to offer London’s developers, planners, architects and Boroughs a visual tool to assist in future proofing London’s built environment, transforming the planning and communication process around new developments, at a macro level. It currently covers 150 square kilometres across five central London Boroughs: Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, The City and Tower Hamlets. A further 20 km sq is currently under production as the team captures Camden and Southwark, and updates existing areas from the latest 2015 imagery. As a result of the technology, it is possible to capture other cities very quickly too, using photogrammetry as the main geospatial mapping tool. The VU.CITY dashboard includes information on sunlight paths, transport routes, LVMF and riverside protected views. By inserting camera points into the model at ground level, the user is able to complete preliminary assessments on verified view requirements, creating a more efficient route through the planning process. It not only accurately shows the current built environment, but also allows users to toggle between existing, consented and proposed developments, showing the development pipeline in London and helping to establish what the future city might look like. In one interactive model it is possible to understand the impact of development clusters across London, from the City and Blackfriars, to the Isle of Dogs and King’s Cross. Informing future debate It is this ability to model the future that the team will be highlighting at Geo Business, and which is so anticipated by delegates, many of whom work in organisations that collect vast swathes of useful data, but to date have been unable to make that data meaningful. At its core, that is what VU.CITY does: it helps us visualise large, complex data sets, making sense of them and so enabling us to make better informed decisions. By visualising London in 3D, and giving the ability to integrate data digitally, VU.CITY is the key to unlocking how we tackle future development and infrastructure planning. VU.CITY creates an informed debate, for better decision-making at all stages from tendering to planning to design to building to sales and marketing. Most critically it will contribute to a better built environment for London’s population today and in the decades ahead.
When news broke across Paris that construction of Herzog & De Meuron’s controversial 42-storey Triangle Tower is to go ahead the world sat up and paid attention. It will be the city’s first new skyscraper since the 1970s and will transform the city’s famous skyline. It is a decision that is surely driven by the realisation that for Paris to retain its world-class status in competition with the emerging cities of Asia and Latin America it needs to grow, and the only way it can grow is upwards. With 42 floors this is a radical departure from the low-rise unchanging beauty for which it has long been famed, and this dramatic decision will present planners, architects and developers with a host of new questions to consider. Triangle, Porte de Versailles, Paris, France / Vue aérienne vers Paris Retaining London’s status Paris is not alone. Property professionals in cities across the world are facing these questions. The focus to retain London’s status as a world-class city is one of the drivers for the ongoing debate on planning and architecture. These issues matter to Londoners just as much as they do to Parisians. Yet, planning on this scale requires a clear view of the long-term. Take the Government’s London View Management Framework (LVMF) an attempt to preserve 27 major sightlines to key historical spots. It was the reason the developers behind the Leadenhall Building, or Cheesegrater, were obliged to cut a chunk off its silhouette, at great cost, but it also opens up a whole host of questions. Sightlines and heritage matter but how do we balance them out against the needs of business and our economy? How will the city look in 50 years, if we keep the LVMF as it currently is? Will our tallest buildings be built around these sightlines, producing a series of wind tunnels starfishing out from our major historical hotspots? Will that leave London as a world-class city? As Boris Johnson said in the foreword to the Framework: “High quality, well-designed and thoughtfully located new buildings can add to our enjoyment of our city. They can help grow our economy, add vitality to our streets and complement our existing historic buildings, places and parks. However, it is important that we find a way of ensuring that new development fits with our built heritage so that London continues to be a desirable place to live, work and do business.” 20:20 vision These are major decisions for London. To give our planners – and indeed all of us – the best chance of making the right decisions we need information. What we need really is a clear view of the future. A new type of digital tool is emerging to meet this growing need. VU.CITY, is the first 3D interactive digital map of central London. If applied to this issue it would allow us to map out the alternatives. Everything proposed could go into the model, and the consequent impact – on infrastructure, social interactivity, services and business – could be measured. Then, we could really start to understand the bigger picture and make the right decisions.