3D Modeling Laser Scanning Surveying Technology

Favelas 4D Uses Lidar to Analyze Brazil’s Settlements

Point cloud of Favelas 4D Reveals Urban Chaos
Favelas 4D Reveals Urban Chaos

The MIT Senseable City Lab has unveiled their “Favelas 4D” project, dedicated to mapping the largest favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Using 3D laser scanning technology to analyze the urban landscape of Rocinha, the project seeks to understand and quantify the architectural logic of one of Brazil’s famous informal settlements.

Brazil’s favelas consist of dense, multilayered, informal settlements that dot the hills of large cities such as Rio de Janeiro; their urban chaos contrasting starkly with the planned neighborhoods surrounding them. This spatial complexity makes the favelas a difficult terrain for typical open-source mapping tools such as satellite imagery and Google Street View, leaving much of their labyrinthine cityscapes unmapped and misunderstood.

n the importance of mapping these informal settlements, the MIT team explains; “The global trend of urbanization is not limited to shining downtown districts and masterplanned developments: of the roughly 4 billion people who live in cities worldwide, almost 1 billion reside in informal settlements constructed without official urban planning. These settlements are built spontaneously and competitively, resulting in a complex urban morphology. People living in informal settlements are largely excluded from city infrastructure and services—exposing them to a variety of public health and security challenges—but they continue to absorb new generations of residents as the world’s exploding urban population outpaces the availability of official affordable housing.”

For Favelas 4D, the MIT team led by architect and professor Carlo Ratti used point-cloud data from LiDAR scans taken at street level in the favela, forming an ultra-high resolution 3D digital environment. The advantage of using LiDAR over other mapping methods for the study lies in its unparalleled precision; using laser pulses to measure distances and map miniscule points in digital space. LiDAR mapping of the favela’s form can reveal patterns of unregulated construction, identify logic among the informality, and reveal insights that can guide interventions and policies to improve safety and welfare in Rocinha and other favelas.

For the complete article on Favelas 4D CLICK HERE.

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