Dundee Waterfront

The £1 billion development of Dundee City waterfront is one of the largest and most complex regeneration projects in the UK. Encompassing the V&A Dundee museum, the vision is to elevate Dundee to a world leading waterfront destination.

Such a complex project inevitably brings new challenges. One of these was finding a way to present information on different development options to stakeholders. A diverse range of factors needed to be considered, from the energy efficiency of different sites and aesthetics of urban design, to traffic noise and opportunities for employment.

With the different types of information being provided in different formats, finding a clear way to convey the impacts to stakeholders was far from easy.


The solution came in the form of visualisation techniques used in the video game industry.

An interdisciplinary research group at Abertay University combined its expertise in environmental sustainability, decision making and computer games technology. The outcome was a simulation of the urban environment at the waterfront, drawing on the technologies used in the computer game industry.

"The development of this way to visualise planning information is a practical example of how we as a University can support our local and regional community and economy," said Professor Carl Schaschke, Head of School of Science, Engineering and Technology at Abertay University. "As a university, we were able to use our internationally recognised expertise in visualisation technologies and sustainable environmental systems to address an issue on our own doorstep."

The 3D interface – similar to an urban environment in a video game – is fully interactive and enables stakeholders to vary the level of detail to focus on specific impacts.

The interdisciplinary approach to research was key to the innovation. “This project would not have been possible if were not for the convergence of sustainability and decision making expertise together with simulation and visualisation techniques based on computer games technology,” said Dr Ruth Falconer, Senior Lecturer in Simulation and Visualisation at Abertay’s internationally acclaimed School of Design and Informatics.

A local community group found that the 3D modelling gave them a greater understanding of how many factors have to be taken into account in planning decisions. “The 3D representation was useful as it provided a context for the proposed development. We got an idea of how it would fit with what was already built and developed. I now have more awareness of how complicated planning decisions are,” said a representative from the Coldside Community Group.

The technology has proved so effective that it has now been adapted to suit a range of other contexts including water treatment technologies, landscaping projects, building information modelling and heat loss and gain.

Abertay University works with a wide range of businesses on sustainable environmental systems, providing expertise on:

  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Sustainable drainage systems
  • Wastewater treatment and resource recovery
  • Environmental evaluation and decision support
  • Modelling and Visualisation

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