Building a massing model in SketchUp is easy, especially when you utilize the program’s integration with Google Earth and Google Maps. This is one of the many topics we cover in our SketchUp for Town-Planning course.
We first go to Google Earth and find our site. If we go to the same location in Google Maps we are given 45 degree imagery with a lot more detail than we get in Google Earth. A great feature of the latter, though, is to grab the Pegman and drag him into the image – we are then given snapshots of the buildings from street view. We can use these for modeling and texturing our buildings later on.
In SketchUp we click on the Add Location tool, adjust the blue pins and hit Grab. The terrain and image are brought into SketchUp, and to the correct scale, as we can see from the height of the default figure Derek. Go to File > Geo-location > Show Terrain to see the gradient of the land itself. This saves us from having to import contours and build the terrain in Sandbox. If the land is quite flat then you won’t see much, of course.
You can also bring in the 3d buildings that other users have created around your site, saving us a lot of modeling time. If you go to the drop-down button beside the house icon, choose Navigation and Nearby Models, SketchUp looks in the 3d Warehouse for models in the vicinity. Click on a thumbnail to download and it’ll land in the correct position. One more place to check for existing buildings is in Google Earth > Preferences < 3d View> Terrain. Tick Use 3d Imagery – this is the low quality, high coverage method images, taken by planes using lasers. But they allow you to see the heights of adjacent buildings.
You would then model your new buildings as usual. You can see how utilizing Google Earth and Google Maps can save you a lot of time when creating your massing models for urban planning.
Other related SketchUp Blog Posts: