Urban massing is an intermediary stage which realizes urban policies by determining appropriate sizes, functions and relations of buildings. It also helps planners to balance the dependencies and conflicts among various complicated urban systems. Better collaboration of domain experts during the urban massing process helps to avoid conflicts among diverse urban systems. However, current design tools respectively support different parts of the process, due to a huge gap between physical (atoms) and digital (bits) information representations. It forces planners to frequently switch between manual and computational tools and results in ineffective and inefficient in process.

In this research, we propose Tangible CityScape consisting of a 2.5D actuated shape display, a digital shadow display and a gestalt view display to assist the urban massing process. With Tangible CityScape, planners can convert abstract information into tangible forms and cross-refer tangible information of multiple city systems. They can also manipulate both digital and tangible representations and leave annotations with both collocated and remote partners. We are going to realize the proposed goals by a five-step process and conduct a qualitative user study by think aloud protocol analysis to assure a seamless urban massing process.

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