Procedural Pompeii


Procedural Pompeii is a test case for the CityEngine modeling software and has been created as environment for the European Project Cyberwalk, where a visitor can walk around in the reconstructed ancient Pompeii in any direction on a mechanical treadmill. You can read more about Cyberwalk in the press: BBC and Swiss Television.

Reconstructing Pompeii with CityEngine

The creation of 3D models of ancient sites has often focused on only their major monuments. This is logical, given the high costs of traditional 3D modeling. Thus, to efficiently reconstruct entire sites like cities, a large number of domestic buildings and workshops need to be generated automatically. Their appearance should follow the aesthetic and statutory architectural rules of the corresponding epoch. With various GIS data provided as input, such as population density, land usage, street network and building footprints, CityEngine assigns type and style of the buildings to its footprints and calls the corresponding shape grammar rules to efficiently create detailed large-scale models. The shape grammar rules which are responsible for the creation of the actual building geometries are manually derived from photos and plans of remaining buildings, archaeological excavation data, and (historical) paintings. The Pompeii model has been completely generated with CityEngine.

Model Creation
Approximation to Reality:

  • The footprints of section 6 are based on archaeological input data. For the rest of the model only the street blocks are based on real surviving/excavation data i.e. the subdivision into building lots has been generated procedurally. Note that the areas which are not excavated yet are also provided.
  • In the archaeological data we used it is often unclear how one building can be defined: on the one hand a building may consist just of one room, on the other hand, large villa structures may span a whole street block. We solved this issue by assigning each footprint a unique building ID.
  • Besides the temple of Jupiter, the building geometries on top of the footprint are not based on excavation data i.e. no surviving structures are included in the model.
  • The temple of Jupiter and the forum are the only monuments provided. These two models have also been generated with CityEngine.
  • In the provided model the terrain is flat. In reality, the site of Pompeii was not completely flat - unfortunately we did not have access to a DTM.

Levels of Detail

We provide four levels of detail (LoD) for each building. The LoDs are described as following:

LoD 0 – Mass Model

  • Can be used as proxy for navigation and camera setup
  • Untextured

LoD 1 – Low Detail

  • Simplified, but can still be used for walk-throughs
  • No interiors

LoD 2 – Standard

  • Reasonable polygon count
  • Perfectly suitable for high-quality walk-throughs
  • Although almost no furniture is included, the interior structures of the buildings can be explored

LoD 3 – High Detail (available on request due to massive file sizes)

  • Extremely high polygon count
  • Includes projecting stones on the walls and roof tiles
  • Suitable for high-quality renderings and as massive model test set for academia