ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information (Jul 2021)

An “Animated Spatial Time Machine” in Co-Creation: Reconstructing History Using Gamification Integrated into 3D City Modelling, 4D Web and Transmedia Storytelling

  • Mario Matthys,
  • Laure De Cock,
  • John Vermaut,
  • Nico Van de Weghe,
  • Philippe De Maeyer

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 7
p. 460


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More and more digital 3D city models might evolve into spatiotemporal instruments with time as the 4th dimension. For digitizing the current situation, 3D scanning and photography are suitable tools. The spatial future could be integrated using 3D drawings by public space designers and architects. The digital spatial reconstruction of lost historical environments is more complex, expensive and rarely done. Three-dimensional co-creative digital drawing with citizens’ collaboration could be a solution. In 2016, the City of Ghent (Belgium) launched the “3D city game Ghent” project with time as one of the topics, focusing on the reconstruction of disappeared environments. Ghent inhabitants modelled in open-source 3D software and added animated 3D gamification and Transmedia Storytelling, resulting in a 4D web environment and VR/AR/XR applications. This study analyses this low-cost interdisciplinary 3D co-creative process and offers a framework to enable other cities and municipalities to realise a parallel virtual universe (an animated digital twin bringing the past to life). The result of this co-creation is the start of an “Animated Spatial Time Machine” (AniSTMa), a term that was, to the best of our knowledge, never used before. This research ultimately introduces a conceptual 4D space–time diagram with a relation between the current physical situation and a growing number of 3D animated models over time.