Making urban planning decisions faster and smarter

Ben Storey
Ben Storey June 22, 2021 5 min read

The complexities of developing a site means that a mind-boggling number of decisions need to be made on any given day. Decisions that need to consider deadlines, regulations, requirements, stakeholder interests and more. Making the right decisions at the early phase of real estate development is crucial for getting your project off on the right track (over 50% of value creation for a site happens in this initial stage) and reducing risks down the line. Which is why we’ve made sure that Spacemaker as a planning tool is intuitive to use, helping you to make these preliminary decisions more efficiently and informed with data. This also supports a more iterative way of working (in contrast with linear). Which means you don’t need to lock in decisions early on and have the freedom to continue discovering and testing options for your site on-the-fly, all in one fast and uninterrupted digital workflow. Plus it’s easy to master: our users often get to grips with Spacemaker in under two hours.

Behind the seeming simplicity of this is a complexity of AI and our awesome User Experience (UX) design team who work tirelessly to make the Spacemaker experience as smooth as possible for our users. In this blog, we’d like to share a behind-the-UX-scenes peek into how Spacemaker is designed to support your decision-making process. So you can evaluate sites and get developments going faster and with more confidence.

Analyze while designing and vice versa

In Spacemaker, design and analysis work hand in hand to support an iterative process, giving you the freedom to keep improving the design. A lot of work went to ensuring that users could easily find the design tools they needed off the back of analysis results. While designing, you can make a fast, detailed analysis of your design at the same time, and keep switching between to adjust your concept to meet your targets. Applying different input factors relevant to your site. e.g. sun, noise, view-to-area, you can see how this affects the outcome of your design. For example, the instant sun analysis in Modify shows how the sun quality is impacted while you’re iterating your design. All this gives an indication of what’s realistic within a site and means you can make more precise decisions backed up with data.

Instant sun analysis in Spacemaker

Generate and compare multiple options

The team has worked hard to deliver a platform where multiple design options can be examined in just seconds. Generating iterations in Explore enables you to optimize the building for living qualities based on your preferred input parameters. So that you can better understand the possibilities, compare and evaluate your options and pick your preferences.


Making sense of data and figuring out how to use it in your proposal is an art in itself. To help users with this, Spacemaker uses visualization in different ways to support your design decisions. 

We put a lot of work into the visualization of analyses to intuitively help users understand how the design affects the site and living qualities – in other words: crunching numbers into graphics. You’ll see these in the heat maps and the right side graphs. For instance, you can see how much area is distributed on your building functions, how much view your apartments have and which wind flows are causing discomfort in your outdoor spaces.

Wind analysis in Spacemaker

Visualizations help users understand the outcome of an input parameter. For example a Height Study in Explore allows you to test different height scenarios to improve the building’s living qualities by adding or lowering the number of stories. Here we’ve created previews of the height ranges (using different colours for up or down) so you can better understand the volume before you generate the alternatives.

Following on from this, visualization helps users understand the risk of their decisions. Say, from your height study, it looks like your building will exceed the local height regulations, which you customized in Constraints. Spacemaker alerts you to this in the user interface and highlights which building volumes need to be changed to reach compliance again.

Another way visualization helps the decision-making process is by highlighting and comparing differencesCompare is a great example. Based on user feedback, we’ve improved Compare to make the numbers more digestible. Clear graphs show an overview of different analyses (from Analyze) in one view – you can customize the statistics relevant to your project. Now you can better grasp the statistics, and easily compare differences to see the benefits and flaws to be able to pick the outcomes you need. You can now compare the stats in both 2D and a new 3D view, plus make screenshots to place directly in a presentation.

Fast, continuous and integrated workflow

At Spacemaker we strive to make it easy for our users to improve and iterate on their designs in order to meet their targets and requirements. Firstly, an integrated process means that we anticipate where our users want to go next on their journey and provide logical options to help them move forward in a smooth, uninterrupted way. The next step is always a click away: Generated options in Explore? Easily take any one of them into Design and continue to make changes. Need to adjust a site parameter? Setup is accessible anywhere within the platform.

Secondly, we’ve built the platform to offer a single view. Now the project team can work together in the same 3D model within Spacemaker, view data easily, and be able to make revisions in hours instead of weeks. This removes barriers between collaborators making it easier for the team to make decisions collectively.

Built for beginners and experts

Lastly, we’ve created an experience that adapts to different types of users. Spacemaker uses ready-to-use data, default settings/ standards as starting points so users always have basic information at hand and can get started quickly. More advanced users can dig deeper into the platform and customize it to their needs. For example we ensured that the default noise settings are based on market specific needs, with possibilities to adjust in the analysis settings for advanced users who wish to delve further into the details.

Adjusting the noise analysis settings

As with pretty much everything in Spacemaker, we’re continuously researching and testing, and listening to our users to expand, iterate and improve the platform. If you have any comments, we’d love to hear your feedback! Get in touch with us here.

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