Virtual Newcastle Gateshead

Virtual NewcastleGateshead (VNG) is a joint venture between Northumbria University, Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council to create a three-dimensional digital model of the urban core areas of both Newcastle and Gateshead.

PrintmodelThe VNG model offers a unique opportunity by providing developers and architects with the means to accurately assess the impact of design proposals within their urban context.

As part of the urban planning process the VNG model provides a more effective and efficient communication tool.

The model also supports VNG's host partner, Northumbria University, in their research activities into city modelling and spatial data management and manipulation. The project, managed jointly by the three partners, has analysed the benefits that the model will bring to a range of stakeholders and is researching into the latest digital and computing technologies to create a more efficient and effective way of achieving better design quality. It aims to place NewcastleGateshead at the forefront of virtual city modelling.

The model to date is based upon aerial photogrammetry and laser scanning survey techniques. The future will require the model to be based upon a database structure to facilitate regular update procedures and efficient management. Northumbria University's current research is investigating how developments in Building Information Modelling could be used to update the model and open modelling standards such as CityGML, Collada and the Industry Foundation Classes are being used to develop a semantically rich and extensible database structure.

The aim of the VNG project has been from the outset to seek ways to create one definitive, accurate, interactive model of Newcastle and Gateshead with the potential to be used for a range of applications. It has recognised that in order to be successful and sustainable a digital model needs to be effectively managed, regularly updated, and integrated into existing working practices and processes. These organisational requirements are as important as having appropriate technical solutions in place.

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  • Virtual NewcastleGateshead offers a wide range of benefits which include:
  • A clearer understanding of Newcastle and Gateshead's built environment.
  • The ability to accurately assess (and present graphically) the visual impact of development proposals from an infinite number of viewpoints within the model.
  • A more effective and accurate communication tool for engaging with stakeholders.
  • The ability to produce walk-through animations as well as still images.
  • Efficiencies gained through the provision of 3D development proposals to agreed standards and protocols (e.g. the removal of 'uncertainty of accuracy').
  • The ability to accurately assess (and present graphically) proposals across boundaries (River Tyne).
  • The ability to accurately assess (and present graphically) some of the environmental impacts of development proposals (e.g. sunpath analysis, traffic impacts).
  • A cost effective way of understanding the wider context of planning applications.
  • Access to accurate up-to-date data.
  • VNG will be kept at the leading edge, benefitting from the latest research and best practice networks.
  • Cost savings through the avoidance of duplication of effort.
  • Access to the wider context 3D data reduces costs to architects and developers.

Client Comments

The worth of Virtual NewcastleGateshead has been realised by local architects, developers and visualisers. It has been used for a variety of projects from small scale developments to Newcastle's largest development to date; The Stephenson Quarter.

"The Stephenson Quarter scheme is a key regeneration project in the heart of Newcastle - it has strategic links with Central Station, the historic core and the stylish Quayside - it was absolutely vital that we were able to demonstrate connectivity to these key areas and to communicate that message to different audiences. The project through Northumbria University not only delivered that objective, it provided a platform for many other uses from design development and improvement through to promotion and marketing."  - Michelle Percy, Director, Silverlink Holdings Ltd

"EYELEVEL has supported the Virtual NewcastleGateshead project from its inception to bring universal access to an accurate 3D City Model of NewcastleGateshead. It is a great asset which will help visualisers produce accurate imagery to help their clients, stakeholders and interested parties progress a project through the design development and planning process." Neil Clark, EYELEVEL


The three partners of Virtual NewcastleGateshead are Northumbria University, who host the model; Newcastle City Council; and Gateshead Council.

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