London’s “Walkie Talkie” building concentrated a beam of light that melted parked cars.

12 September 2013 — A pan-European consortium led by the UK’s Birmingham City University is developing a strategic planning tool that could help reduce the unintended consequences of building in urban environments.

Professor Keith Osman, director of research at Birmingham City University, said that the recent case of London’s “Walkie Talkie” building concentrating a ray of light that is suspected of having melted cars highlighted the need for a more integrated approach to city planning.

“Designers behind the Walkie Talkie building have cited climate change and even the lack of analytic tools as potential reasons for the so-called ‘death-ray’ effect,” he said.

“This has highlighted just how important our project will be in helping urban planners to better assess the impact such ambitious buildings will have when built in real city environments.”

The KIC-Transitions project brings together data, modelling and visualisation tools to provide a comprehensive simulation framework to assist in urban strategic planning.

The platform will allow cities to plug-in a range of information sets for analysis of key environmental impacts, including energy needs, noise pollution or carbon emissions.

Professor Osman said the enhanced modelling capability being developed through KIC-T will allow city planners, designers and city-dwellers to better understand the full implications of planning decisions.

“KIC-T is defining standards and software to allow city data, models and visualisation tools to be readily plugged together, allowing more comprehensive models to be created, which can be applied to cities around the world,” he said.

“Currently it is often extremely difficult to reuse or combine existing tools to investigate resource consumption, sustainability and assess the environmental impact and quality of life for citizens.”

The Climate-KIC is Europe’s largest public–private innovation partnership, working to address the challenge of climate change.

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