Cities become human

Cities become human

Because the best way of meeting the challenges of urbanization is to make sure that city renewal projects focus on the people who live there, because the ways in which we consume and travel need to change, we are there.

Urban transformation projects – whether they involve transportation infrastructure, real estate developments or architectural projects – require teams to communicate effectively. Project managers, project owners, contractors and architects need a collaborative environment and a single set of reference data to make sure they are speaking the same language.

That communication now extends to residents, because a city’s planning only makes sense if it enhances the quality of life and experience of the people who live there. These requirements also arise in a context in which data of all kinds are increasingly widely available and can be harnessed to drive a city’s transformation. Data make it possible not only to manage, regulate and plan the way cities work, but also to invent new types of services. This is one of the major developments over the last few years, and the movement is only just beginning.

Simon Huffeteau

Vice President Construction, Cities & Territories, Dassault Systèmes

A sustainable, resilient and inclusive city

The first challenge that urban planners must meet is to ensure that cities are sustainable and, beyond that, resilient. This can involve much more short-term issues, such as how well will the urban system cope with a strike by refuse collectors, an extreme weather event, a flood or a major fire? Will it survive a crisis? Another challenge, which also relates to a city’s sustainability, is to ensure that it is inclusive: this should be understood not only in social terms but also from the human point of view, because a city is inhabited and experienced by human beings. For example, it is imperative that real estate development is coherent with transportation system development.

Another challenge relates to a city’s governance, and the quality of relationships between the municipal authorities, the city’s local economic ecosystem and its citizens, in a context in which many private-sector entities now act as middlemen, using digital technology to offer a city’s inhabitants various goods and services, such as transportation. To make a city sustainable, resilient and inclusive, digital platforms have a key role to play. Dassault Systèmes adds value in precisely this area: it supports development, oversight and execution of public policy and projects, helping the city authority become the entity driving the transformation of the city and its context. Today, when a major real estate developer builds a tall building, its square footage is less important than the experience provided to its occupants and the city authority’s ability to understand the overall impact. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform gives municipal authorities a way to regain control of their cities and allow project owners to take into account the city context when making their decisions. Having previously been organized around Architecture, Engineering and Construction, the platform’s focus is now on Construction, Cities and Territories, showing the role that Dassault Systèmes intends to play with respect to cities and, particularly, the people who live in them.

Sustainable cities: key issues

Morphosis Architects has always been interested in how cutting-edge tools can expand and augment the design process. Founded by Thom Mayne, Morphosis’ architecture and planning projects are recognized the world over, and feature major innovations in terms of form, constructability and sustainability.

Morphosis was one of the first architecture firms to adopt CATIA and parametric modeling, and it uses the 3DEXPERIENCE platform at all stages from design to completion, from immersive visualization of the concept to optimization of energy-efficient façade systems.

A building‘s architecture is an increasingly complex system that requires tools and innovations that are themselves increasingly sophisticated in terms of design and construction. This growing complexity reflects the increasing demands that architecture must address in terms of functionality, environmental sustainability, and performance, which now also overlap with issues relating to sustainable cities. For example, urban growth is creating traffic congestion problems all over the world.

By modeling our projects in 3D, we can progress very quickly, considerably increase the amount of time we spend thinking and reduce the time spent on manual work.

Thom Mayne
Thom Mayne
Architect , part of the deconstructivist movement and co-founder of design and architecture firm Morphosis.

A new, integrated travel system

With limited space available on the ground, it will be hard for current traffic routes to cope with increasing volumes of travel. This is why Urban Air Mobility (UAM) is such an active area of development. Fifty companies, from established aerospace and automotive groups to technology startups, are currently working in this field. Hybrid propulsion systems are being developed for the near term, but all-electric airborne vehicles that can take off and land vertically are the future: their low emissions and noise levels are a winning combination for our cities. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) also are a major application of UAM technology. Designing these vehicles and showing that they can operate reliably in a complex urban environment are major challenges. Multidisciplinary analyses must be carried out within a tightly defined regulatory framework. The large amount of data involved requires integrated project management that combines virtual prototyping and physical simulation within a collaborative platform. The most advanced aerodynamic and aeroacoustics simulation techniques are integrated within the SIMULIA solution, allowing users to understand and resolve highly complex issues, starting with noise, which is mainly produced when the blades of the main rotor hit the turbulence generated by the other blades. Vehicles often have a number of rotors, some of which can be coaxial and contra-rotating, with variable angles and speeds, resulting in a level of complexity that goes beyond the capabilities of traditional fluid dynamics simulations.

To maximize the range of these vehicles, simulation also is vital in battery design, and the constant quest to make vehicles lighter and more robust means that components and assemblies, subject to multiple nonlinear loads, must be optimized. Finally, all of these low-flying aircraft must communicate and coordinate with each other reliably so that they can safely operate as part of an urban transportation system, and this requires integrated multi-scale electromagnetic simulations. The technologies integrated into the SIMULIA and CATIA suites allow users to move away from traditional design paths, which are required to achieve a viable concept vehicle quickly and efficiently, in this competitive emerging market.

Rachel Fu

Developing a quiet, optimized and certified vehicle for Urban Air Mobility (UAM), within the target compressed timeframes, can only be accomplished with the range of multiphysics simulation capabilities provided by SIMULIA.Our high-fidelity computational fluid dynamics (CFD) uniquely predicts noise signatures of these vehicles, and our electromagnetics capabilities ensure communication system functionality in all adverse conditions. Additionally, with a long history in aerospace certification for structures and composites, our customers can be certain that regulatory requirements will be met, even in the early design phase.

Rachel Fu Senior Manager, SIMULIA Aerospace & Defense Initiatives

Last-mile logistics

Public transport and shared two-wheeled vehicles also are key parts of a transportation system, as are delivery vehicles, which represent a rapidly changing industry. The explosion of e-commerce, traffic congestion, the environmental impact of transportation, pedestrianization and the banning of certain vehicles from city centers all mean that urban logistics need a thorough overhaul. Whether a package has come from halfway around the world or the next city, the last mile is a major headache for logistics companies.

Generally, they deliver packages using large vans, which are unsuited for small volumes and urgent deliveries. Today, many companies understand that these urban vehicles need to be rethought, while also reducing their environmental footprint. Both major international automotive groups and specialist startups are working on the issue. For example, they are looking at electric propulsion methods, cockpit ergonomics, the driving position, the interface with the driver, the way in which vehicles are unloaded, ease of maintenance and upgradability. Whatever their size, those companies are adopting an agile approach, using collaborative platforms that include users in the process of defining product specifications. This approach helps them speed up the development of their first vehicles, which they then can rapidly adjust based on customer feedback.


The Renault EZ-Flex is an experimental electric smart utility vehicle, designed for urban deliveries. It was designed by the Renault group‘s LCI (collaborative innovation lab) and represents a novel collaborative and innovative approach.

Across Europe, customers will test a dozen of these vehicles and suggest changes to help address future uses more effectively. The LCI is a multidiscipline team of engineers and architects specializing in mechanics, platforms, bodywork and product architecture; designers specializing in vehicle exteriors, interiors and user interfaces; and marketing experts. The cloud based 3DEXPERIENCE platform ensures that all disciplines can work together, speeding up the validation of concepts and making them more robust through digital modeling and a single-design approach.



Interacting with city residents

Another way our cities are being transformed is by identifying and harnessing data, a central part of the smart cities approach. More than 90% of the world‘s data have been generated over the past two years, and this trend will continue: data from mobile computing, artificial intelligence and augmented reality create artificial landscapes that form part of the urban fabric. The combination of the virtual and physical worlds offers new opportunities to designers as they seek to address social and sustainability issues.

In April 2019, five international teams took part in the DATAVIRONMENT Hackathon Challenge in Milan, bringing together the most cutting-edge architecture and design practices. They had 48 hours to design the Milan of the future, using data and the CATIA and SOLIDWORKS design solutions integrated in 3DEXPERIENCity.

Their experiments included the location between the ancient Parco Sempione – Milan‘s largest park – and CityLife, Milan‘s new business, residential and retail district. The first team created a covered walkway, with canopies that move in response to heat, light and interactions with people. The second proposed turning car-parking spaces into modular farms to promote local food production. Another team designed a data center that is visibly integrated within the city, clearly showing the increasing use of data in urban management, whereas data centers are usually relegated to unpopulated areas. The fourth team designed an automatic generator of restaurant extensions, and the winning team designed a holistic, automated urban planning and construction tool, using data related to the distance from the city‘s historic and modern centers and each building‘s use (retail, residential, cultural, etc.). The tool not only simulated proposed buildings, but also future changes to the urban fabric. It showed the extent to which urban planning is a dynamic discipline that combines both the past and the future.

24 people involved in the first DATAVIRONMENT Hackathon, divided into five teams

90% of the world‘s data have been generated in the last two years

Harmonizing all elements of city life into healthy, pleasant human experiences requires a sense of responsibility and exposure to the urban context in all its complexity. Ethical design requires the ability to respond immediately and intelligently to the global standards that a city must meet.



Arup is a global firm of designers, engineers, architects, planners, consultants and technical specialists, leading the study of cities. It has operations in more than 140 countries and its teams combine knowledge of the built environment with new technologies in order to design a better world in the digital era. Its Smart Green Resilient strategy aims to reduce demand for resources, promote a low-carbon economy, make business more productive, improve the quality of urban life and increase climate resilience. In October 2019, Arup and Dassault Systèmes formed a strategic partnership: the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is giving Arup the benefit of virtual twin technology, and now offers a collaborative solution that is enhanced by Arup’s experience. The two partners are taking part in Hong Kong’s plan to unify data representations and systems in order to improve the way the city functions and, therefore, the quality of life of its inhabitants. Hong Kong’s government is encouraging the creation of shared infrastructure consisting of spatial data, with innovation and technology being used to meet urban challenges and improve quality of life, sustainability and efficiency, with the ultimate goal of increasing Hong Kong’s appeal. The project has two phases: the first focuses on devising a global framework, including targets and a roadmap with the aim of creating a smart city.

The second showcases several applications in four areas: urban planning and the use of space on the ground, through pedestrianization and urban design, for example; infrastructure and engineering, such as the visualization of underground spaces and water, electricity and wastewater services; the landscape, the environment and their conservation; and the combination of working processes. The platform has already shown its great potential in fostering collaboration between the public sector, private sector and academia.


Pacific Consultants is a construction consultancy founded in 1951 to support the nation‘s development of post-war reconstruction in Japan. They have been involved in urban development in Japan and overseas, like transportation infrastructure such as roads, railways, ports and others. The civil engineering industry in Japan possesses world-class technical capabilities of earthquake resistance technology and seismic technology against tsunamis and heavy rain, and the professionalism of engineers involved in the projects is very high. However, because competent technology often depends on personal skills, there are problems that skills are not handed down if engineers retire. Therefore, it will be necessary in the future to digitalize processes and share knowledge. Pacific Consultants has adopted the 3DEXPERIENCE platform with the aim of improving productivity and reforming work styles on projects like bridges and sand control dams. In order to determine effective positions and structure, calculation and trial and error are repeated, but quick design is possible by changing conditions and positioning using CATIA design templates. Since design templates can be reused, projects can be continuously improved.

In the future, with the aging of structures, the issue will be how to maintain and manage them efficiently. In addition to the structures that will be built in the future, 3D-enhanced maintenance and centralized management of structures in the cloud environment will open up a smart construction industry.