Eiffel Tower: Experience the Site In 3D

Civil & Surveying

The Mayor’s Office of Paris decided to conduct the design of this site around the Eiffel Tower by using BIM (Building Information Modeling) technology, i.e. a process that involves the creation and use of a 3D model.  This solution, especially on such a large-scale, clearly facilitates the collaboration and exchange of ideas between the City of Paris and the project management teams, allowing a more “immersive” visualization of the project throughout the planning and design phases.

Autodesk, the design software developer, is supporting the City of Paris by producing very precise topographic measurements, in 3D, of the entire area around the Eiffel Tower project, between the Trocadéro Gardens and the Champ de Mars, as well as along the Quai Branly between Pont de l’Alma and Bir-Hakeim (54 ha).

Read on to discover the story of the 3D model and the different phases of implementation.

First phase:

Capture the site in 3D

Before being able to start the planning and design phases of a project of this nature, it is essential to gather information and data on the site’s existing conditions. This involved “digitally capturing the site,” the first phase to entering the 3D world.

Autodesk called upon Gexpertise, a French topographic engineering and modeling company, to collect the 3D data. This allowed them to create a robust and accurate model of the site.


Gexpertise surveyed the Eiffel Tower site for several weeks. Visitors to the site most certainly came across them with their strange backpacks between the months of January and March 2018! These experts took photos, used laser surveying technologies (LiDAR), drones, and other relevant methods to create a 3D “photograph” of the site’s existing conditions. Due to all this information, they were able to create an extremely precise dataset of the site.

In figures, that works out as:

  • Thousands of hours of data capture encompassing a 54 ha territory
  • 194 point clouds comprised of 10m x 10m sections and totaling more than 10.3 billion points
  • 342 GB of data were used to accurately produce the model’s 3D elements

Second phase:

Model the site in 3D

The area surrounding the Eiffel Tower is a vast, complex site with many challenges to overcome: shared public space, historically significant access to public transportation, visitor safety, environment conservation…But also public services such as restaurants and cafés, restrooms, etc., as well as access to the Eiffel Tower itself.


Using reality capture software (Autodesk Recap Pro) and 3D modeling tools, the team used the surveying data to model the surrounding terrain, buildings, street furniture, trees, and various surfaces in order to integrate them into a unique, final 3D model. This 3D model is being used to identify and explain the site constraints, as well as better conceptualize design solutions. It is also being used to analyze pedestrian access, circulation, and line areas.

Third phase:

Develop a VR model

“Discover. Approach. Visit.” Through these three words, the City of Paris emphasizes how much the user experience is at the heart of this project. Currently, immersive reality technology, like Virtual Reality, is the best way to virtually submerge visitors into what the Eiffel Tower site will be like in a few years.

To accomplish this, WSP’s visualization team joined Autodesk to develop a virtual reality model of the site that is interactive and realistic, reflecting the existing conditions of the site.


The existing conditions 3D model will be used to create visualizations and animations, allowing the City of Paris, and the various stakeholders, to better understand the appearance and the functionality of the different proposed solutions throughout the project’s life-cycle. The existing conditions 3D model offers users the chance to experience the different views and perspectives in a more immersive way. For example, when it is time to make the final choice between the four finalists of the design competition, the 3D model will give the City a realistic and more coherent view of each design proposal, thereby making it easier to compare them.

Visual animations will be produced to illustrate the point of view of pedestrians and to create the experience that visitors will enjoy when walking around the future site.

The 3D virtual reality model consists of:

  • A 54 ha site
  • 8,200 trees of different species
  • 1,000 buildings
  • 4 bridges
  • 25 statues
  • 560 light fixtures
  • 425 benches
  • 100 trashcans

Step into the VR experience

arrowDownload the VR model

Click this link to discover the existing conditions 3D model developed for the City of Paris. To experience the model, download and install this game-like application. Load the VR model, and you can start to explore the site! Please note, the application requires the use of a powerful computer and a good graphics card.

arrowLearn more about Autodesk’s Context Modeling Solution

arrowGIS and BIM Integration Will Transform Infrastructure Design and Construction

arrowWhat Is Reality Capture?

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