Despite the population decline in Germany, metropolitan areas and major cities are having to accommodate an ever increasing number of residents. Whilst cities are able to provide attractive jobs, education and transport infrastructures, etc. and sport and recreation facilities, they fail to provide enough housing. The increasing per capita consumption of space, a change in demographics and the diversification and increase in population keeps the demand for new housing high. With building regulations being stretched to the limit tension is arising between the three driving bodies in urban planning; the political, the planning and the public. To provide appropriate planning solutions, achieve sustainable design and attain social acceptance of development projects, for example the densification of residential areas in city centres or big projects such as Stuttgart21 and the 3rd runway at Munich Airport, the way in which interventions are communicated, the degree to which local people are involved in decision-taking processes and the transparency of these procedures is of major importance. An evolution towards an information era, with new forms of connecting and contributing through eParticipation, eGovernment, ePetitionen and other forms of online consultation, demonstrates a movement towards open government in urban planning, with a stronger participation between a more diverse body of players, in a network orientated environment.
Most often used in combination with the public right to contribute and influence decision-taking processes, it can be argued that „participation“ is rather a collaborative, educational process which must be practiced regularly and requires both access to information and resources. A high investment in both time and cognition is required; to learn, process and form objective opinions on planning information in order to participate. The challenge, is presenting planning information tailored to individuals’ depth of knowledge, as well as social and planning backgrounds, to allow comprehensive understanding of a proposal and its context by everyone and to encourage the public body, in particular, to participate at all. To support complex new and future development it is vital that appropriate methods of communication are chosen in initial planning phases, to avoid discrepancies in understanding between the bodies. Visualisation as a method of communication is a significant tool which can overcome conventional boundaries in planning, therefore influencing understanding and acceptance of decisions. The aim of this research proposal is to assess how gamification methodologies, as a form of visualisation, can be applied to the field of architecture and in particular, applied to address the challenges of participation and communication between the driving bodies. Through a game-full confrontation and appraisal of planning information and technologies, processes such as the dissemination of information, the education of planning proposals and the education of non-traditional planning methods, technologies and structures can become easy to understand, stimulating, computer-based experiences. Furthermore, the effects of urban planning measures can be made directly accessible, visible and interactive through three dimensional digital models and real-time exploratory techniques.
The interdisciplinary approach is necessary to (i) combine the expertise in the fields of urban and architectural planning, architectural informatics, gamification methodologies and stimulating user interaction; and (ii) integrate expert knowledge of virtual environments and visualising complex data in 3D spaces to create a decision support tool for discussion, education, participation and presentation in planning processes.