Local plantlife 3D-model library creation in Helsinki 

Visualising local biodiversity in 3D models can help plan for greater biodiversity. Images of the local plantlife library constructed by B.Green for Helsinki and Tallinn. Credit: Lauri Lemmenlehti.


The goal of producing a 3D-model library of local vegetation, although limited, provides 3D modelling resources to enable urban planners to include greenery in urban 3D-models. Such 3D-plant models are not widely available in Helsinki and Tallinn as the market is smaller than, for example, Central Europe. Existing models for sale are graphically complex and often aimed at providing resources for high-end still-visualisations. A library of 73 common local Helsinki plant life species was categorised by the project to be used in a 3D model for the zoning of Hermanninranta and related real-time renderings. Helsinki and Tallinn share much vegetation due to their geographic proximity, so the City of Tallinn collaborated with the City of Helsinki on 3D models of different development phases of the allotment garden project. The models were constructed in such a way that they could be used in large numbers in common building information modelling software, but at high enough visual quality that the model would appear realistic in real-time rendering software and support the creation of immersive applications. 

Description of practice

Green Pixel Ltd produced a 3D-model library of 73 species of trees, bushes and vines. Each species has three age versions: a sapling, a 15-year old plant and a fully mature plant. There are also summer and winter renderings of each age version. The 3D-models are sized from 4 to 10 Mb and are saved in a folder structure.

Who was involved  

The Forum Virium Helsinki project team purchased the model library from a company specialising in vegetation modelling. The City of Tallinn and the Kalasatama-Pasila tramline project were also consulted on the choice of common species that it would be useful to model in the first phase. 

Promotion and communication 

The 3D-plantlife library has been publicised in internal webinar presentations for the City of Helsinki and in public presentations by Forum Virium Helsinki.  


Skills: Understanding of the local flora and commonly used plants in local urban environments. 

Time commitment 

The plantlife 3D-model library was created between February and June 2021 (6 months).


Level of participation
  • No participation (stakeholders/citizens were not included) 
  • Informing (informing citizens about what is planned) 
  • Consultation (offering options and listening to the feedback) 
  • Co-production in some of the aspects 
  • Co-production from start to end 
Urban planning challenge(s) tackled Governance and institutional factors

  • Working collaboratively
  • Standards and regulatory processes
  • Finance

Stakeholder engagement 

  • Public acceptance
  • Shared decision-making 
  • Social inclusion

Knowledge and skills

  • Awareness and communication
  • Expertise
  • Technical integration

Lessons learned

● The 73 species with seasonal and age variations are so numerous that a separate visual browser would be very useful for comparing the different options.

● Detailed vegetation can be used in modelling but demands a higher level of 3D modelling of the buildings.

● The 73 species created are common city trees but are not enough to give a precise level of mapping of entire courtyards.