Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The iCreate Xmas Rhyme 2009

Just a quick note with our seasons greetings!
Time for a break from deadlines and meetings!
As we near the end of two-thousand-and-nine
It's time for another Christmas rhyme!
The blessings this year have been mixed, to be fair,
With hard times and good times in equal share.
Business is busy so we mustn't complain,
And developers seem to be building again.
But one thing we've learnt, and we'll share it with you,
Is not to forget - as we so often do -
That life is supposed to be happy and fun,
And that's what's important when all's said and done.
So best wishes to you and the ones you hold dear,
Let's hope twenty-ten is a prosperous year!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Merry Christmas from iCreate!


We are still at work, and most of will be here until the 23rd December, but we thought we'd take the opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and best wishes for 2010.

Our office will be closed from Wednesday 23rd December to Monday 4th January. Urgent enquiries over this period should be directed to 07789 226 457.

See you in the New Year!

Dubai or not Dubai?


Having recently returned from a visit to Dubai, we were saddened but not exactly surprised by news of what is being dubbed the 'Financial Crisis II'. The inability of Dubai World to repay its debts has led to panic and uncertainty, particularly among the many British banks and contractors owed money by companies in the region.

Up until this point, it's been a bit like the Emperor's New Clothes - no-one wanted to be the first to question the sanity of the phenomenal amount of speculative development underway in Dubai, despite the fact that the inadequacies are surely glaringly obvious to visitors and residents alike. Richard Rees, director of Urban Design at BDP, in his presentation 'The Future of the City', asserts that many new Asian and Middle Eastern cities, like Dubai, have taken their lead from what we in the West now deem to be the worst aspects of modern cities.

These new 'high rise' cities have developed into hugely built-up urban spaces which ignore the green issues and 'quality of life' aspects that are increasingly of interest to urban designers and planners in the UK. The result can be pretty unwelcoming: over-reliance on car travel, very few green spaces, no consideration given to pedestrians, even less to cyclists (as if anyone would want to cycle in the heat of the desert) and very little cultural interest or local authenticity. All coated in the shiny gloss of brand-name consumerism. Perhaps not such a desirable place to live after all.

Like UK consumers, who kept on spending despite record levels of debt, the Dubai taste for bling, glamour and excess now looks, to some, like utter folly. It will be interesting to see how the current debt crisis plays out, but we can't help wondering whether a bit of 'reality-bites' is just what's needed to inject a bit of pragmatism into the vision for the future of the emirate.

Interactive Masterplan for Coastal Housing


iCreate's pioneering interactive technology, the iViewer, is one of the innovations driving the company forward in difficult times, offering clients an immersive 3D experience they can't get anywhere else.

The latest iViewer project to be launched is the interactive masterplan for Coastal Housing Group, which presents a 3D map of all current and upcoming developments across the city. Users can view different development options, toggle between a variety of information overlays or even take a helicopter tour around the 3D model.

With a re-designed interface and enhanced functionality, this latest demonstration of the iViewer interactive application serves as a great example of how the technology can be used. To view the project or discuss how the iViewer could work for you, call us today, on 0845 867 9849.

Damned if you do and damned if you dont...


You can't please all the people all the time, and that's never more true than when you're presenting a vision for urban regeneration! We are all understandably concerned when there are plans afoot for the re-design and re-development of familiar local areas – even when we know there's plenty of room for improvement!

Cynicism and criticism will always abound when local authorities and regeneration companies present their version of a vision for the future of their towns and cities. As Joe Joyce, a Northampton resident, points out, “It seems the council are damned if they don't do anything and damned if they do”.

Whether it's a fear of change, a deep-rooted cynicism or a general sense that the council's priorities are all wrong, public agencies and regeneration companies are stepping into the line of fire whenever they put forward a new vision for regeneration to local residents and businesses.

At iCreate, we know only too well how this concern can impact on the presentation of new ideas and proposals. We regularly work with councils and regeneration agencies to pre-visualise areas that are set for regeneration, providing the visual aids that help communicate the vision and stimulate debate.

And with a recently completed project for West Northamptonshire Development Corporation hitting the local headlines, it's clear that the images we produce certainly stir things up! But as John Markham, leader of the WNDC, acknowledges, that's half the point: “This new concept will inevitably attract differing responses and reactions from people and we welcome that as part of the process. I think we all have an idea about what the concept includes, but positive suggestions and contributions from the public will be very welcome.”

View the recent project for Northampton Town Centre Regeneration

The key challenge facing local authorities and their development partners is to engage with the local community and other stakeholders, so that the vision for the future reflects the needs and interests of the widest possible group of people. The process of deciding what to show is not always easy - it's a matter of finding the right balance: Vague enough to avoid too much controversy, yet concrete enough to seem realistic and achievable. At iCreate, we believe that by presenting a credible and tangible vision, our clients are 'putting it out there' and getting a response – good or bad – to move the debate forward.

And, never underestimate the power of having a vision.  As Chris Holley, leader of Swansea Council points out, “When people can see what the City Centre could look like, they are more enthusiastic about the future - whether or not they agree with the specific proposals."

For advice on turning your complex strategies, masterplans and regeneration frameworks into pictures, call Dawn or Anthony today, on 0845 867 9849.

For more information about how iCreate is helping to bridge the gap between vision and reality, go to the iCreate Website

Saturday, 12 December 2009

From Virtual to Reality


We all know that 3D visualisation is a powerful way to show what new buildings will look like before they're built, but how reliable are the images we produce? Both planning officers and potential buyers often have to rely on 'artists impressions' when making important decisions, so, do our 3D computer generated images (CGIs) offer a true impression of the finished scheme?

To find out, we've selected some recent projects which have now been built, and compared the 3D images we produced with photos of the completed buildings, so you can see for yourself. Before reading on, see if you can tell which is virtual, and which is reality...

The images on the left are our 3D visualisations, produced before the buildings were built, whereas the images on the right are the real thing - photos of the completed properties. We hope you'll agree that the differences are minimal!

At iCreate, we are now leading the way in the creation of virtual images and photomontages that are 100% reliable. 'Visually verified montages', or VVMs, are increasingly requested by UK planning departments who need images they can depend on when making important planning decisions.

Our VVMs, which merge 3D virtual models with actual photos from specified viewpoints, are produced according to rigourous guidelines published by the Landscape Institute and Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, and all viewpoints are accompanied by a report detailing how the montage was arrived at.

For more information, contact Dawn or Liam today via email or call 01792 824 894