Urban Simulation and the Luminous Planning Table: Bridging the gap between the digital and the tangible


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Urban Simulation and the Luminous Planning Table: Bridging the gap between the digital and the tangible

Multi-layered computing platforms that integrate digital and physical forms of representations will provide a major discourse in urban design and planning processes. Their ability to seamlessly integrate digital and tangible data and update information in real time enhances both the design process and communication to the public.

The Luminous Planning Table (LPT) is one of the first prototypes of a tangible computerized urban design and planning interface. The "smart" tangible interface provided by the LPT allows for a new form of information delivery that is direct and easily understood by professionals as well as lay persons.

This ability to engage and provide a different medium for information delivery and understanding is most promising in its pedagogical, professional, and public engagement outcomes.

Few urban simulations exist that allow immediate, real-time, and seamless changes in response to public or professional inputs. Each form of representation remains separated from the other in time, space and scale

If our aim is to let the public become more involved in the planning and design of physical spaces, better methods and tools of urban simulation have to be developed.

The Tangible User Interfaces (TUI) distinct approach is in its focus on graspable physical objects for input rather than by enhancing visual devices.

PPT Slide

The Luminous Planning Table (LPT)

Classroom Setting --

In the design phase, the LPT allowed students to physically model their work and helped them gain a clear sense of the spatial implications of their designs. the ergonomics of the table allowed the entire design team to simultaneously work on a single scheme. The combination of real-time digital information and physical manipulation helped considerably in reaching a group consensus as to the agreed design solution.

PPT Slide

Professional Setting


“The Luminous Table highlighted aspects of the site which are normally cumbersome to analyze and was excellent for bringing the site to life and showing it as a dynamic place which changes temporally through the course of the day and year.”

"Over reliance on the table could be problematic i.e., we also need to think about social, political, and economic factors we cannot show on the table. Also, are the computed models/calculations correct? It can be misleading if they are not. “

Prospects & Limitations

Limitations The overemphasis of physical issues due to the graphic nature of the representation might overshadow other concerns Interactive computing could invite a reflex-based kind of activity that is often difficult to reconcile with thoughtfully planned work The amount of technological infrastructure required to install the LPT tool in its current form, could limit its portability, and use in design practices. great amount of infrastructure required to construct the tool might make it too expensive and cumbersome for regular use.

Author: ebj