Urban design is concerned with the shape, the surface and the physical arrangement of all kinds of urban elements, the basic components that make up the built environment, at the level of buildings, spaces and human activities. It is also concerned with the non-visual aspects of the environment, such as noise, wind and temperature and humidity. The city square is a particular urban element which can take many forms and its geometrical relationships such as maximum dimensions, ratio of width to length and building height to length have been analysed for centuries (Alberti 1475), (Vitruvius 1550), (Sitte 1889), (Corbett 2004). Within the current urban design process there are increasing examples of three dimensional computer representations which allow the user to experience a visual sense of the geometry of city squares in an urban landscape. Computer-aided design and Virtual Reality technologies have recently contributed to this visual assessment, but there have been limited attempts at 3D computer representations which allow the user to experience a greater sense of the urban space. This paper will describe a survey of computer tools which could support a more holistic approach to urban design and which could be used to simulate a number of urban texture and urban quality aspects. It will provide a systematic overview of currently available software that could support the simulation of building density, height, colour and style as well as conditions relating to noise, shading, heat, natural and artificial light. It will describe a methodology for the selection and filtering of appropriate computer
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