Winning with 3D: A study of 5 Ramboll landscape architecture projects

Ever wondered how global firms use 3D technology to collaborate, win bids, and develop great work? Fret less — we’ve compiled five landscape design projects of different scales and types to showcase how multidisciplinary engineering firm Ramboll consistently delivers.

1. Public Space Upgrade 

Kværnerbyen, Oslo, Norway

Rendered model showing planters in Kværnerbyen, Oslo, Norway. Courtesy of Ramboll
Rendered model showing planters in Kværnerbyen, Oslo, Norway. Courtesy of Ramboll

Obos Real Estate wanted to upgrade part of a public space in an existing housing area in Oslo. Anders Hus Folkedal, landscape architect at Ramboll, used SketchUp to build a mock-up of some of the existing buildings, canal, and plazas. 

“In my experience, modeling a recognisable context is vital for effective communication,” he says. 

Their proposal included a timber pergola and new ‘plant towers’ as add-ons to existing concrete constructions. Folkedal used Lumion Livesync with SketchUp to add photorealistic materials and foliage. The visuals generated were used to communicate the design to clients and local residents.

SketchUp model of the upgraded public space. Courtesy of Ramboll
SketchUp model of the upgraded public space. Courtesy of Ramboll
Render of the upgraded public space. Courtesy of Ramboll
Render of the upgraded public space. Courtesy of Ramboll
Key takeaway: Add recognisable context to your 3D model for more effective communication. Visualisations will help win bids and bring stakeholders along for the journey.

2. Masonry Stair Project

Ruseløkka Elementary and Middle School, Oslo, Norway

Masonry Stair Project, Ruseløkka Elementary and Middle School, Oslo
Masonry Stair Project, Ruseløkka Elementary and Middle School, Oslo

For this complex stone stairway project, Ramboll works in collaboration with Veidekke, Norway’s largest construction and civil engineering company. With a company-wide move towards an all-BIM approach, Veidekke were keen to make use of Ramboll’s landscape model as yet another source for the BIM workflow. Anders is able to deliver detailed IFC models containing all geometry, dimensions, and material specifications.

In addition, Veidekke is able to import models from SketchUp into Solibri, a BIM visualiser. Typically, landscape architects are stuck with 2D drawings and terrain surfaces, but for this project, Anders is able to leverage SketchUp’s IFC capabilities with visuals to assign attributes, such as unique code, price, and more to each piece of masonry.

interior design
Workplace design
Workplace design

Masonry Stair Project, Ruseløkka Elementary and Middle School, Oslo. Courtesy of Ramboll

Each group is colour-coded for easy, visual communication and localization. The model can be used for further production drawings, engineering geometry, and for extracting reference images for builders on-site.

It can also be used to generate reports for price estimations and material ordering.

Blocks are colour-coded for build ease. Courtesy of Ramboll
Blocks are colour-coded for build ease. Courtesy of Ramboll
Key takeaway: Squeeze every last drop of value from a single 3D asset across multiple teams and project stages. 

3. City Planning Project

Hønefoss city, Ringerike, Norway

Aerial view of Hønefoss City Planning Project, Ringerike, Norway. Project collaboration between Rambøll landscape and DRMA architects.
Aerial view of Hønefoss City Planning Project, Norway. Project collaboration between Rambøll landscape and DRMA architects.

Ramboll in collaboration with the external architecture firm DRMA won the commission to create a planning strategy for the future development of the city of Hønefoss. In order to effectively model the five square kilometre site (massive, we know!), the DEM terrain file was converted to a rough triangulated terrain for the wider context while a more accurate model was created for key areas. 

Fly-over video of the proposed Hønefoss riverfront development. Project collaboration between Rambøll landscape and DRMA architects.

The architects at DRMA exported their new buildings directly from Archicad as SketchUp files. The river bottom was modeled in a separate Autodesk Civil 3D file. 3D maps typically don’t display information below the water line so the Ramboll team used a spline to add depth. The water surface was then imported as another model on top of the river bed. Ramboll road planners provided triangulated road models in a LandXML format. All of these were imported into SketchUp. 

Old and new. SketchUp geometry is merged with Lumion speedtree vegetation. A poster was modeled in SketchUp showing a picture of the existing situation behind a tint of Lumion glass.
Combining old and new. SketchUp geometry is merged with Lumion speedtree vegetation. The poster shows a picture of the existing context behind a tint of Lumion glass.
Real life photos of existing facades are textured in SketchUp and further enhanced with normal maps in Lumion.
Real-life photos of existing facades are textured in SketchUp and further enhanced with normal maps in Lumion.
 
By dividing the model across layers, Anders was able to model and navigate smoothly, turning off context when not in use. 

He created animated scenes using Lumion; “My goal was to represent the city in a familiar way by adding facade textures to certain iconic buildings, building bridges and landform silhouettes in the distance.”
Aerial rendering of the project context
Aerial rendering of the project context. Project collaboration between Rambøll landscape and DRMA architects.

Throughout the entire design phase, the model was discussed internally within the design team in terms of volumes, spatial qualities, important visual axis, heritage, smaller details such as street furnishing combined with urban stormwater bioswales. In meetings with our client, Ringerike Municipality, the Ramboll team took them on “flying” tours over the city and “walks” through the streets so that they could experience what the future might look and feel like. The model was also used in a dialogue with local stakeholders who found the shift of scale from an aerial overview to a detailed city scene fascinating and enlightening.

Fly-over video showing the proposed Hønefoss riverfront development. Project collaboration between Rambøll landscape and DRMA architects.
Key takeaway: Import and converge as much disparate data and geometry as possible to maintain accuracy on projects with multidisciplinary contributors. Simplify it where possible and make use of layers to optimise speed.

4. Feasibility Study: Conversion of a Gas Station to Mixed-use

Nesttun, Bergen, Norway

Bird's eye view of Nesttun development, Bergen. Project collaboration between Rambøll landscape and DRMA architects.
Bird's eye view of Nesttun development, Bergen. Project collaboration between Rambøll landscape and DRMA architects.

Ramboll’s landscape group was commissioned by DRMA architects to carry out a feasibility study. The project would transform a gas station into a mixed-use space next to the local downtown area. It was developed entirely in Sketchup and populated with green volumes and materials in Lumion at the final stage. The visuals are crucial for dialogue with local authorities and stakeholders.

Fly-over video showing the Nesttun mixed-use conversion. Courtesy of Ramboll
 
Riverside view of Nesttun development, Bergen
Riverside view of Nesttun development, Bergen. Project collaboration between Rambøll landscape and DRMA architects.
 
Rendering of Nesttun development, Bergen
Bergen is famous for its rainy weather. Ramboll added fog and precipitation to the scene to add a touch of realism. Project collaboration between Rambøll landscape and DRMA architects.
 
 
Fly-over video showing the Nesttun mixed-use conversion. Courtesy of Ramboll.
Key Takeaway: Access sophisticated 3D assets and add realism and atmosphere to visuals with renderers like Lumion.

5. School Project

Veiavangen middle school, Mjøndalen, Norway

Bird's eye view of Veiavangen Middle School, Mjøndalen, Norway
Bird's eye view of Veiavangen Middle School, Mjøndalen, Norway. Courtesy of Ramboll.
SketchUp model of Veiavangen Middle School, Mjøndalen, Norway
SketchUp model of Veiavangen Middle School, Mjøndalen, Norway

SketchUp model of Veiavangen Middle School, Mjøndalen, Norway. Courtesy of Ramboll

This school project in Mjøndalen is another interdisciplinary project involving many professionals within Ramboll. The architects were working within Archicad, whilst the building engineers favoured Revit. The landscape team used SketchUp to recreate these bringing the disparate models together.

SketchUp + Lumion rendering of Veiavangen Middle School, Mjøndalen, Norway
Rendering created in SketchUp and Lumion. Courtesy of Ramboll.
A SketchUp model of Veiavangen Middle School rendered in Lumion. An all-Rambøll project where several BIM models from different programs were combined in Sketchup.
An all-Rambøll project where several BIM models from different programs were combined in Sketchup.

Discussions with all stakeholders; end-users, school representatives, city hall, and politicians, now centre around this model. Navigating a single 3D environment enables the team to uncover issues that would otherwise be impossible to spot.

Ramboll uses a VR headset to present a 360-degree SketchUp rendering during a client meeting
Ramboll uses a VR headset to present a 360-degree SketchUp rendering during a client meeting

360-degree VR panorama images were also used on this project, allowing the client and end-users to experience the project well ahead of its delivery.  

“As a result, our client was able to discuss interior solutions to optimize the school’s internal space with our architect,” said Folkedal. “Politicians and contributors enthusiastically praised the live show. This level of engagement is a massive win for us."

Key takeaway: Although it can require significant effort, creating a single, master model enables teams to spot issues early and provides a launch pad for showcasing a project to its full potential.

About Ramboll 

Ramboll is a leading engineering, design and consultancy company founded in Denmark in 1945. The company employs more than 15,500 people globally and has an especially strong representation in the Nordics, UK, North America, Continental Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

With 300 offices in 35 countries, Ramboll combines local experience with a global knowledgebase constantly striving to achieve inspiring and exacting solutions that make a genuine difference to our clients, the end-users, and society at large. Ramboll works across the following markets: Buildings, Transport, Planning & Urban Design, Water, Environment & Health, Energy and Management Consulting.

About the contributing professional

Anders Hus Folkedal is a landscape architect and led the design of these projects featured. He has used SketchUp since 2007, is fascinated by technology and still considers himself an avid gamer.

About the Author

Sumele Aruofor

Sumele contributes architecture and performance focused content to the SketchUp and Sefaira blogs. When she's not writing or practicing architecture, she can be found singing with her three-man band, cooking up a storm or stuck in a book.

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