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Disclaimer: This portion of the UDVL website - How to CAVE and VR for Urban Planners - is no longer maintained as of 04/2010. This guide, however, was the first of its kind and a UDVL original, and stands as a starting point for using VR as a planning tool. Many technologies have changed since the development of this website in 2002, so please perform further research on VR methods if you are to employ these methods, but feel free to reference this site.


This manual has been designed to assist Urban Planning students in the College of Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago to create real time simulations to be displayed either on the web or in the CAVE, a virtual reality display environment developed at UIC. Possible uses for simulations include modeling and simulating the built environment in order to show change over time.

Overview of Simulation Creation

The CAVE provides a platform for real-time simulations with total immersion. The web provides a platform to display real time simulations using plug-ins in the web browser. Interactivity is added using a scripting language to enable users to move, rotate, scale, delete, or alter any object within the scene.

The CAVE is primarily used by students seeking Master's and PhD degrees from the Art and Engineering Colleges. The Electronic Visualization Lab, located on the second floor of the SEL building, provides students with a plethora of computing software and hardware. Classes related to CAVE programming are located in the Art and Design building in a corridor entitled, the Passion Pit. The CAVE is located on the southeastern side of the SEL building on the first floor.

Electronic visualization incorporates the following areas of interest: interaction and interface design, information architecture, graphic design, creative direction, content design, visualization theory, art theory, programming and scripting, and 3D modeling. This list is not inclusive but includes topics addressed in any visualization project. As a planner, you must learn how to fully address the above topics while conveying information about the built environment and creating a platform for meaningful interaction.

Computer Graphics & Urban Planning
  What is Virtual Reality?
  What is a CAVE and why use it?
  VR & the Web
  Current & Future state of VR
  Ongoing projects
Overview of Classes & Program
  Newspace versus EVL computers
Project Fundamentals
  Collect Data
  Construct Models
  Apply Textures
  Program Interactivity
  Output to Display Device