New York City In 2259

  • NYC 2259
    In an era in which the disciplines of architecture and urban design are injected with technology, we see new innovative software for urban design and modelling being launched. In the past we wrote about various new digital initiatives that enhance the urban planning profession, such as the so-called ‘city information modelling’ application CityCAD, and LimeWire Creator, the open source project of Mark Gorton. In this article I’d like to introduce CityEngine by Procedural, which is a design and modelling solution for visualization of 3D urban environments.


    CityEngine can be used for different purposes, such as the design and construction of urban infrastructural patterns, and modelling of ‘architectural content’ and urban mass. Datasets can be downloaded from a source like OpenStreetMap. To see what CityEngine is able to, some interesting projects are showcased on its website. The New York City 2259 models grabbed my attention in particular. The project is an “extrapolation of New York city 250 years into the future, inspired by Bruce Willis’ 1997 blockbuster ‘The Fifth Element’.

    NYC 2259 sketches a utopian view of how New York could look like in the future, with generated skyscrapers and futuristic flying cars. Today’s street network of New York, imported from OpenStreetMap, has been extended to a bigger area, available due to the lower water levels in the future (see picture below).

    NYC 2259
    The flying cars are generated and distributed following the basics of the urban street segments. Buildings are designed following specific generative principles, which highlight the huge protruding building sections as in the original movie.

    “…the parcel is extruded, split vertically into two parts and then the front part is horizontally split into sections (with a recursive rule). (…) The fantastic thing is that these rules can be applied also to arbitrary shapes, not only extrusions. Hence, at the very beginning of the rule set, simple polygonal volumes are inserted as a ‘building envelope’ and the remaining rules act as it would be an extrusion.”

    Click here to further explore the project. There’s a video on the website which shows you in detail how to generate this futuristic model of New York using CityEngine. In case you have the software installed, you can also download the project and play with it yourself.

    NYC 2259