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How an interactive planning model will make your master-planning more efficient and save you money.

Updated: Oct 24, 2019

Planning room model with touch screen interactivity

Modelart was briefed on modelling an extensive geographic area belonging to the Royal Bafokeng Nation situated in the North West Provence of South Africa, an area of 40km x 30km. The main purpose of the model was to assist local government departments with infrastructure project planning and implementation.

During the briefing it was mentioned that due to the vastness of the geography, meetings were often scuppered by trivial non-productive debates, such as the shortest travel distance between two points, the route of subterranean services such as water or sewer or power line corridors. When this happens, it is usually the most senior or forceful person who has the final say. One incorrect decision on a route selection will add a substantial premium to what could be a relatively inexpensive project, especially if the work requires multiple trips over an extended period, as one example.

The model area includes the town of Rustenburg in the South and the Sun City Resort in the North with Platinum being the core industry in that area. The Royal Bafokeng Kingdom is a collection of land parcels that have been integrated over time dating back decades to the homelands, hence the varying tones of green geometric shapes in these images.

The solution that we proposed and duly accepted, was a purpose made board room table with the model housed beneath a sheet of glass in a timber frame. The model scale was determined by considering practical constraints of, board room size, transport logistics. And importantly the need to safely span a 10mm sheet of safety-glass suspended in a frame. Scale 1: 25000 measuring 3,2m x 2,2m in area was deemed to be the most suitable scale.

The model needed to be interactive via electronic touch pad, so as to be able to call up activities relevant to subject of the meeting underway at the time. And more importantly, to exclude features that are not relevant to that meeting, to avoid unwanted distraction. It was important that the information depicted on the model was representative of major infrastructure only, for it to remain current, as well as to achieve a neat un-cluttered appearance. The Bafokeng Kingdom is held in a rim of granite mountains with a fairly flat valley floor, interrupted by several perennial rivers traversing the land. We chose to express the mountains with exaggerated elevation and everything else flat. Features such as rivers and dams were engraved into the surface and marked up in blue resin.

Urban areas with city blocks measuring about ten mm across at scale, were fabricated in opaque Perspex treated in a flat colour tones representing urban, commercial and industrial zones. Roads were finely engraved into the surface of the Perspex to reveal the grid matrix and able to be illuminated from beneath at the push of a button. All human settlement areas were embedded into and flush with the surface of the model. Towns and villages could be selectively illuminated.

Major and secondary roads connecting towns, villages, mines and other significant destinations were marked up in an appropriate grey depicting asphalt. Rail was depicted as a hatched line and typical of how they appear on maps.

Schools from pre-primary to tertiary were able to be located via light point. The touch pad enabled the selection of single or multiple locations. Similarly, this applied to Police stations, sports facilities, hotels, mines, local government, down to and including, pump stations, reservoirs, antennae, main sub stations and other key installations.

Power corridors, subterranean sewer and fresh water pipe lines as well as other invisible infrastructure was depicted as rows of fibre-optic points that are virtually invisible until selectively or collectively illuminated as depicted in the images below.

Modelart’s suggestion to the client was to use the glass surface as a white board to sketch concepts and make notes above the area under discussion at meetings. These would be recorded in a Photograph that would form part of the minutes of the meeting.

The above image with all lights on.

The above image with all lights off.

The feature that redeems this model solution most, is that it enables focused unambiguous attention on the subject of the moment. The ability to clear the clutter and achieve consensus through a common understanding of topics under discussion, will help accelerate the implementation process and save costs.

Thank you for making time to read this blog. You are welcome to leave a comment or question if you choose.

Modelart. Founded in 1988. “The Original Modelart”



Compiled by Team Modelart