Communication through 3D-Modelling 

Hermanninranta zoning support 3D model. Credit: B.Green project.


The goal in producing a 3D-model of Hermanninranta was to produce a high-quality model as a basis for discussion and communication with political decision makers about the zoning plan. A higher-than-average quality 3D-model was created of the zoning area, including of mature trees. The 3D-model of Hermanninranta is a combination of different modelling tools and resources.

The main green infrastructure elements present in the plan are stormwater management solutions in the interior courtyards and streets, large interior courtyards of apartment blocks and the low level of underground construction under the courtyards, which facilitates the planting of large trees. The B.Green project was heavily involved in the creation of the Hermanninranta zoning plan in northern Kalasatama. Although the planning solutions that helped to create these green Infrastructure solutions were already established before the project, these solutions are dependent on the form of the blocks and the sizing of the street.  

Description of practice

The Zoning Plan 3D-model includes buildings, blocks, streets, trees and surrounding areas. Rhino3D-modelling software was chosen for its ability to integrate various models and data, and because it is user-friendly for landscape planning. Support for add-ons on visualisation engines was also important as these provide easy to use, freely movable, high-fidelity visualisations and the ability to analyse in real-time the movement of shadows in the interior courtyards. Depending on the visualisation software, different levels of temporal effects on the plans can be surveyed. Some software can simulate the daily movement of the sun with seasonal changes in the vegetation habitus and even decades-long vegetation growth. In attempting to reach the next level of zoning 3D-modelling, it was decided that temporal change within a day would be enough for this zoning plan. The model was presented to political decision makers as a freely explorable model, instead of the traditional fixed perspectives of visualisations.

Who was involved  

The Forum Virium Helsinki project team technical expert was included in the normal process of zoning, which is led by the zoning architect for the specific area from the City of Helsinki. Other professionals from inside the urban planning department were also consulted, such as landscape planning, traffic engineers, water management planners and other technical and economic planners. 

Promotion and communication 

The 3D-modelling of the zoning plan was presented to the City of Helsinki in webinars. There are plans to make the 3D-model public for political decision making.


Tools and software:
● Good skills in Urban 3D-modelling
● Rhino3D
● Lands Design landscape plugin for Rhino
● Enscape 3D for real-time rendering
● Cetopo public landscape data provider for surroundings
● Vegetation models

Time commitment 

The zoning and its modelling process started in August 2020 and ended in June 2022. 


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 

● Decisions that affect the quality of green infrastructure solutions should be made early on in the zoning planning process.

● Zoning planning can benefit from the existence of a digital twin that provides data and analysis about the surrounding area and an urban background model.

● Zoning is supposed to set clear limits and directions on architectural and technical planning. When 3D-modelling a zoning plan, a suitable balance must be found between information and suggestions to allow space for proper architectural planning. When producing 3D-models of plant life, there must be a new balance between the natural environment elements and how these are presented as a part of the zoning plan. 


● A next level 3D-model of the zoning plan

● A 3D-model of the zoning plan presented to political decision makers as a freely explorable model