Cities & Public ServicesDecember 11, 2023

Perfect Planning: how to get the full vision of your sustainable city from day one

Virtual Twins help public authorities collaborate, test, assess and make science-based urban planning decisions.
Avatar Guillaume LENOEL

By 2050, there will be nearly 10 billion people in the world. These people must be housed; and this housing must be safe, affordable – and increasingly, sustainable. A whole new generation of innovative construction approaches are needed.

This was the mission that lay at the heart of our Building Tomorrow project, which you can explore in full here. Across the project, Dassault Systèmes teams sought to demonstrate how virtual solutions can allow us to totally transform how we collaborate on, design, and operate buildings with carbon neutrality in mind – even the very biggest structures.

Like the Eiffel Tower, for example.

Sustainable urban planning: building for the better

But no building, no matter how big, exists apart from its surroundings. Designing, constructing, and operating any new building means accounting for this right from the beginning.  From the start of the project, the Dassault Systèmes City design team wanted this new tower to be an organic part of Paris, meeting the city’s challenges and help advance its sustainable objectives.

Sustainable urban development has entered a new era, impacted by demographic and regulatory pressures, climate change, and a new scale of difficult-to-predict short and long-term challenges. Cities are putting sustainable urban planning at the heart of their agendas, and must increasingly satisfy rapidly evolving citizen expectations for a better life in resilient and attractive surroundings. 

The success of this agenda depends on cities’ ability to overcome critical issues. These include reducing CO2 emissions, limiting the consumption of  building materials, improving water management and waste management systems, and developing reliable and safe urban transport networks. 

In the context of Paris, the Dassault Systèmes design team in charge of the new tower considered the following sustainability drivers:

  • Limiting CO2 emissions and consumption of natural resources
  • Contributing to fighting urban heat islands
  • Developing aesthetically pleasing designs
  • Engaging with citizens’ needs

Considering these challenges, the concept chosen for the new tower was a “Vertical Garden”, meeting Paris’ ambition to become a safe, smart, and sustainable city, and offer a better quality of life to its inhabitants. 

A collaborative platform to keep sustainability at the core of operations

Key to the development process was Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE® platform. The solution provides a digital environment that enables cities and territories to create value for their citizens, reducing cost and risk, and putting sustainability at the core of operations.

To start the project, our team of experts created, in the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform, a virtual twin of the new tower. This virtual twin leverages comprehensive sets of data (including 3D modeling and simulation) to build what-if scenarios, using data from across silos, and including both internal and external stakeholders. 

Furthermore, the platform provides a common and secure workplace where all parties can engage with each other and with the project as it evolves. Work there takes place within clear guidelines, ensuring consistent review processes and continued compliance with data policies.

Using simulations, we could analyze specific parameters such as the building’s height to understand its potential impact on the neighborhood in terms of the shadow it would cause, how it might affect airflow, and whether it risked becoming a heat island. The water consumption needs of the tower’s vegetation were also modelled, helping further promote sustainable operations.

All of this was enabled by the 3DEXPERIENCE® platform, which allowed us to: 

  1. Understand the initial situation and how to tackle the challenges by aggregating and analyzing up-to-the-minute data from a wide range of sources across the value chain. 
  2. Design the future tower, analyzing the impact and cost of different construction scenarios by using a virtual twin of both the project and the city.
  3. Drive collaboration with the virtual twin – a single source of truth accessible to all stakeholders and organizations: architects, designers, urban planners, local authorities, suppliers, and citizens. 
  4. Clearly communicate information about why decisions were made, and what value they brought, to all relevant stakeholders on the project.

The virtual twin helps tackles silos, allowing us to share data, collaborate with ease, and monitor the implementation of the project, all in one place. This is how the virtual world improves the real world and fosters sustainability-driven decision-making.

In the video below, I detail how the team settled on the Vertical Garden approach, and how simulation solutions helped us design a plan that would accommodate this ambitious vision.

As the global population becomes more and more urban, the problem of how to integrate new projects into the existing fabric of cities is an increasingly universal one.

It’s a big challenge. But it’s not an insurmountable one. As the Building Tomorrow team demonstrated, we have an ever-growing toolkit of solutions which can help us understand and plan projects right from the start, enabling us to deliver truly innovative urban transformation.

You can see the project for yourself here:

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