CityCAD Software: Stop Masterplanning!

  • CityCAD is a relatively new software tool for architects trying to become a urbanist or planner. The 1.6 version has just been released. Considering the name, CityCAD shows to be an AutoCAD like application, but actually it is as understandable as a mix between Sim City and Google’s Sketch Up. Download a trial version of CityCAD here!

    “CityCAD was the first major CIM (City Information Modelling) software application to be released for the city design, planning and development community. It was created for analysing concepts and layours in the early stages of a masterplan, during scenario testing, feasibility studies and identifying strategic risks and opportunities. It is a ‘parametric’ tool – meaning that if you change the design, then all design-related information is automatically updated.”

    The good thing about CityCAD is that it helps visualising ideas and concepts for urban situations, which might help to better understand a certain place. A special feature focuses on urban panning standards and calculates proportions like dwelling per acre (dw/ha) and the balance of green and shopping services.

    The bad thing is that the program is a temptation to the user to think in programmatic standards, while ignoring social circumstances, time dimension (flexibility in plan), and process management qualities. However, this is a mistake that’s already without this software deeply programmed in the DNA of most architects, considering current practise.

    In the context of the flexible city, these kinds of software tools form the big threat of further formalisation and unification of our cities and social domains. Designers and planners start to think in three dimensions while up to that probably 10 dimensions are important to only understand place and space use (activities, patterns and movements). We should just stop masterplanning, because this has proven led to inaccurate and boring cities. And we should start working with strategic planning frameworks, making planning and urbanism a context-based profession.