3D Orthographic Mapping

As designers, trainers and practitioners we’re always looking for tools that will help in realizing our design visions. One of the relatively recent developments that allows for the transfer of these ideas from our minds onto landscape is the emergence of 3D orthographic mapping software used in conjunction with drones.

There are a number of capabilities and functions being combined here (a classic example of ‘stacking’):

  • Aerial photograpghy and data acquisition
  • GIS data
  • GPS and elevation data (w/GPS locators)
  • Ordnance maps
  • Google Earth

Drones (such as those made by DJI Innovations, for example) use high quality (i.e. high definition, high resolution) cameras mounted on gimbals to capture images of intended work areas that can be referenced to create 3-dimensional maps. These are cross-referenced with the aforementioned data to provide a versatile design and presentation platform for working on landscapes. Living within the so-called "Information Age", there’s no shortage of data that could potentially be integrated into this arrangement, allowing us to fully express what is being seen by our mind’s eye.

I liken this particular design capability to the use of 3D solid modelling software like SolidWorks, ProEngineer, or Autodesk’s Mechanical Desktop and the ability to produce files that can be used to make "tool paths" for CNC machining or 3D printing in the fabrication of parts; IGES or DXF files of the 3D designs are exported to the fabricating machines for them to produce a part that’s reflective of what was created in the software.

The same capability exists here. The difference being that the coordinates referenced are GPS locations. Earthworking/Terraforming, house placement, access (i.e. roads and paths), etc., can be positioned more reliably using ‘instant’ maps that are more current and accurate, ensuring that fewer mistakes and unexpected surprises complicating our efforts are likely to arise.

This is an amazing opportunity to integrate a brilliant design and presentation tool into all of our work.

Refer to the following links to get more information about 3D orthographic mapping:

Rhamis Kent

Rhamis Kent is a consultant with formal training in mechanical engineering (University of Delaware, B.S.M.E. '95) and permaculture-based regenerative whole systems design. He has previously worked for the renowned American inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen at DEKA Research & Development, with subsequent engineering work ranging from medical device research and development to aerospace oriented mechanical design. After taking an interest in the design science of Permaculture, he sought extended training with permaculture expert and educator Geoff Lawton at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. This led to his involvement with design work connected to the development of Masdar City in UAE after Mr. Lawton and his consulting company (Permaculture Sustainable Consultancy Pty. Ltd.) were contracted by AECOM/EDAW to identify solutions which fit the challenging zero emissions/carbon neutral design constraint of the project.


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