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CityCAD concepts

What is CityCAD for?

CityCAD is a parametric, conceptual modelling tool for large-scale mixed-use urban masterplans.

  • Parametric - in that you can use CityCAD to create an information-rich model, in which parameters such as the land use and number of storeys can be changed, and data such as the total floorspace is automatically calculated.
  • Conceptual - in that it is not intended for detailed design, but for early studies of the street layout, massing, density and broad assessment of sustainability, liveability and feasibility.
  • Large scale - in that it is intended for masterplans from about 2 ha up to about 200ha in size. CityCAD can be used for much larger models, but performance may be affected depending on model complexity and available graphics hardware.

How do I create a model?

See Also: Getting Started and Tutorials

You can use Boundary Routes or any other kind of route to draw a network.

If any area on the ground becomes enclosed by routes, then a BLOCK is automatically created. Blocks will be deleted if any route or node around its perimeter is deleted. For more information about how blocks and networks are interpreted in CityCAD, see Working with Routes.


If you click on any element, its properties will appear and can be edited in the Properties Panel. This is on the right of the main display window by default.


Summary of CityCAD Elements

CityCAD Elements are things that you can create and edit in your city model, and which are listed in the City Grid

There are six types of elements:



The basic building block of your city model is the Route.

You can draw routes using the Route Tool or one of the Multi-Route Tools.

You can change the properties of a route in the Route Properties panel.


Routes are made up of 'Streetscape Elements' - pavements, vehicle lanes, shared surfaces, reservations, car parking, bus lanes and cycle lanes.

You can add and edit as many of these as you like using the Streetscape Editor. If you click on a route using the Select Tool, the Streetscape Editor will appear in the properties panel.

In the route above, the route is made up of (from left to right):

  • a pavement
  • a line of parking
  • a vehicle lane
  • a reservation (green)
  • a vehicle lane
  • a line of parking
  • and another pavement (with route trees added).


If all Streetscape Elements are deleted from a Route and its thickness becomes zero, then it is called a 'Boundary Route'. These are useful for drawing more detailed parts of the masterplan such as plot boundaries between buildings.



When you draw a route, a node is automatically created at each end. These are shown in CityCAD by Node Markers at each end of the route. You can hide the node marker, or adjust the geometry of the Node using the Node Properties

A node at the end of a route is an 'End', one shared by two routes is a 'Link' and one shared by three or more routes is a 'junction'.

For more information, see Working with Nodes and Working with Routes.


Blocks are created whenever an area is enclosed on the ground by Routes. For more information about how this is done, see Working with Routes. When creating a city model, choose the block type which is most suitable for your masterplan. There are five types of blocks:

  • Semi Detached / Detached Housing
  • Perimeter Block Terraced Housing
  • Perimeter Block Mixed Use
  • Mixed Use Block
  • Building
  • Open Space

Semi-Detached / Detached Housing


This block type can be used to model large areas of residential development.

You can keep track of net residential density, numbers of units and the average plot size. You can also separately track average unit (house) floor area and Floor Area Ratio across the whole block.

See also: Semi-Detached / Detached Block Properties

Perimeter Block Terraced Housing


This block type can be used to model perimeter blocks of terraced houses. You can type in a house width, and an approximate number of houses will be calculated.

You can also adjust the number of storeys, the floor-to-floor height and the block depth.

See also: Perimeter Terraced Housing Block Properties

Perimeter Block Mixed Use


You can assign different land uses to each floor of this block type. You can also fix the building depth, Floor Area Ratio or Total GFA, and this will remain constant as you grow or shrink the block.

See also: Mixed-Use Perimeter Block Properties

Mixed Use Block


This is a general mixed-use block for larger scale community planning when you don't need to model the exact locations of buildings. You can simply type the percentages of different land uses and floor area ratios contained in the block. These quantities will not be visible (the block is a flat surface) but the data will be stored with the block and accounted for in your model.

See also: Mixed Use Block Properties



The 'Building' block type covers the whole area of the block with a building. You can edit the number of storeys and land uses on each floor in the Block Properties panel.

You can also use the Subdivision tool to draw subdivisions on each floor. 'Building' block types are useful for more detailed masterplanning, where individual buildings need to be modelled.

See also: Building Block Properties

Open Space


Open Spaces are flat blocks. You can choose from several land use options in the Block Properties panel - for example water, park or managed green area.

See also: Open Space Block Properties

Choosing the right block types for your model

The first four block types above are intended for earlier, more conceptual studies. The 'Building' and 'Open Space' type blocks can be used to create more detailed urban layouts.


If you want to bring in more complex block types (eg. with more complex 3D geometries and roof structures), you can bring in a DXF CAD model as a City Item and assign land uses to it in the same way as a Mixed Use Block.

City Items


City Items are objects you can add to your model using the City Item Tool. You can use City items to:

  • Enhance the visualization (add objects such as cars, lamp posts or street furniture)
  • Add detailed models of individual buildings, urban blocks or larger masterplans (you can attach land use and other data to a city item using the City Item Properties panel.



You can add trees to your CityCAD model using the Tree Tool and Tree Spray Tool to enhance the visualization.

The total number and breakdown of tree types can be viewed in the Environmental analysis panel.

See also: Tree Properties

Graphics Objects


You can add graphics objects to your CityCAD model using the Graphics Object Tool. These can be used to annotate your city model - to identify places, areas, movement routes, access points, thresholds and views.

See also: Graphics Object Properties

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