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2.4 Urban to Detail Scale Modeling

In this step, we performed a feasibility study to understand the degree of maturity of state-of-the-art tools that could be adopted in order to enable and support massive online 3D design, like Sketchup and online open editor [4]. In this process, we favored either open-source or freeware solutions and considered online accessibility a top priority requirement. User-friendliness and the availability of multiple format for exporting the design models were also considered. We discarded a number of tools, mainly for their “closed” nature, also from the point of view of simple configuration and tailorization, for interoperability problems and lack of support of collaborative processes (e.g., data sharing and messaging). As a general finding, real-time response and feedback of the editing environment was considered critical to keep engagement sufficient to gather useful contributions from the “crowd”. In figure 4 the detail scale is shown.

2.5 Collective Publishing

In this phase we wanted to share all the prospective models participatorily built to the public, so that the best option could be detected on the basis of the votes collected for each alternative solution. To this aim we exported the models in obj format on a Web GL 3D engine, which is a format that most desktop computers and even mobile devices can handle and manipulate natively. Figure 4 depicted the best solutions identified in this phase.

Fig. 4. Main design options chosen among 16 other

To this respect a number of open format were actually available (like kml, dxf, obj, csv, xml) to convert user ratings into graphics attached to geographical data or 3D models. In order to shorten the digital divide a mostly visual language was considered the best solution to adopt to get the opinion also of people not familiar with all these formats. As said above, the focus of the project was not on the technological side, but aimed at understanding what specific combination of tools could engage users more effectively and to what extent this toolset could be adapted to different, but yet strongly related, concerns and goals.

2.6 Feedback Provision

Results were published in real time in public Dropbox repositories and standard Web resources, for over 6 months, gathering feedback through different communication channels that encompassed stakeholder meetings, emailing, phone calls, and Web forms. In particular, feedback was collected through emails, model sharing and openended interviews. At a preliminary analysis, no particular difference in engagement was detected between different age or gender groups.

2.7 Completion

In this step we proposed an idea for a crowdsourced call for 3D printed parts of a larger model, without further details. To this respect, market is almost frantic in proposing more powerful and stable solutions: during the study at hand new powerful and easier 3D print tools have been released (e.g., reprap, tinkercad, autodesk 123d). The future work will leverage the contributions of the building and construction department of the university to develop a mock-up of the proposal in the next workshop.

2.8 Final Publish and Maintenance of a Web Site

A follow-up site was published and it is still accessible, where contents are updated and planned events advertised periodically. Something important that deserves a comment is that online social networks didn't really help as process starters or working platforms, but rather as follow up sites. The whole experiment served as a touchstone for the developing of new communication interfaces between designers and citizens.

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