The Past and Present of a Mountain City in AR View | UABB EXHIBITS Vol. 11


2019 UABB横海报.png

The 2019 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen) (hereinafter referred to as “UABB”) themed “Urban Interactions” was officially opened on December 22nd at the two main venues at Futian High Speed Railway Station and the Museum of Contemporary Art & Planning Exhibition (MOCAPE). The exhibition consisted of two sections, namely “Eyes of the City” and “Ascending City”. Nine sub-venues in the different districts of the city well interacted with the two main venues, completing an organically interactive network throughout the city. On August 19, 2020, the 8th Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (Shenzhen) officially closed online.

More than 140 exhibits presented by over 280 participants from 24 countries and regions explored the evolving relationship between future lives, technological innovation and urban cities. This volume of UABB EXHIBITS brings you an introduction of Image In Place, an exhibit from section “Eyes of the City”, which is also one of the five excellent works that were awarded the Public Award of 2019 UABB.


Image In Place


Venue: Futian Railway Station

Section: Eyes of the City

Sub-section: Silicon Pupils


Architect CHEN Hui has been studying architectural and spatial design approaches under the nonlinear theory since 2008, accumulating practical experience in cutting-edge digital technologies and applied algorithmics. His collaboration with planner QIAO Liu yielded fruitful outcomes, which were afterwards transformed into 3D animation and interactive augmented reality (AR) works. Planner ZHONG Kai has gained a thorough, in-depth and professional understanding of this area through over a hundred visits to the Project site for detailed investigation since 2016. The three joined together to form a core design team focused on the analysis and design of this area through AR and other leading digital means to develop a new paradigm for the industry.

Augmented Reality (AR) technology can integrate complex professional information into space in form of dynamic graphics. It allows people to see the visualized logical structure and professional discipline achievements. Therefore, people’s understanding about the development, the operation logic and the spatial characteristics of the city are improved. Through UAV, people can transcend their physical smallness and gain a macro perspective that they can control. Image In Place intends to create an “eye of the city” to form a series of dynamic, millennial and in-depth digital analysis of Chongqing Hualongqiao area.


Project: Image In Place

Duration: 12’30

Team Members: CHEN Hui, QIAO Liu, ZHONG Kai


Image In Place at 2019 UABB

The complexity of human information has been increasing exponentially throughout the process of civilization. However, this is not the case with the evolution of the human brain as now concrete visual graphics remain the most efficient form of information that the human brain can pick up without resorting to much logical cognition or rational analysis. Augmented Reality (AR), which integrates virtual graphic information into relevant real scenes, follows exactly how the human brain works and completes the information-based spatial reorganization for the human brain, thus realizing an efficient channel for information transmission.


Road conditions at different time of the day 

Through AR technology, people have an “eye” for a thorough observation of the city. When the UAV takes this “eye” high into the sky and flies freely, people can transcend their physical smallness and gain a macro perspective that they can control. This is an eye provided by urban civilization for people to observe the city, and urban civilization also provides rich data information and interpreting paradigms for such observation. When people have this eye, they can be regarded as god in a sense. Not only can they achieve a transparent state of being fully aware, but they can also form a virtual image of their ideas and designs about the city , and then convey them to others intuitively and transparently through the “eye of the city”. In this way, communication between people will be more effective than ever.


Heat map of Liziba Station and TESTBED 2

In this work, Chongqing Hualongqiao area was chosen as the experiment site. After using photogrammetry technology to reconstruct the model of this region, and inviting experts from different areas to provide professional information, UAV aerial pictures and photogrammetry reconstruction 3d scenes have been fused with programming dynamic graphics to generate animation of AR, which combines the special topography with the city status of Chongqing in different historical periods to present the history, culture and urban landscapes of the area.


Walking distance from community buildings to infrastructures



Past dynasties and important historical figures

This work involves diverse fields such as history, geography, military, engineering, transportation and urban activities, all classified and integrated into a unified 3D model. This diverse and increasingly improved high-precision information-based model behind the film not only guarantees the visual effect of the film, but more importantly, it can help the team sort out something valuable from a sea of complicated historical and urban information and develop normalized and standardized logics of basic information when collaborating with different partners on different themes, thus promoting work progress in an orderly and efficient manner.


3D Model

The film presents UAV aerial photos, aerial survey-based reconstruction and programmed animation, while the film contents involve more dimensions. Take the imaginative restoration of the ancient city pass “Fotuguan” in the film as an example. There are very limited descriptions about this pass in historical literature. Ancient and modern maps only provide a quite rough outline and a few old photos available only show some partial views, so the imaginative restoration process was not easy.


Daguan Gate of Fotuguan

The team made a careful research on its topography relying on modern topographic maps, 3D model reconstruction and aerial photos. Highly matching segments of the city wall were located against ancient maps and old photos, while those difficult to be identified were given an estimate based on the literature records consulted, including relevant descriptions about military, administrative management, residents’ life etc. In this way, most parts of the city wall were confirmed. Then, the architectural style and layout of some well-preserved existing ancient villages in eastern Sichuan were referenced for writing logical architectural model generation programs and generating building details inside the city. The whole process was sort of like solving a puzzle or a case for the team, who pieced together different clues spanning over several hundred years, gradually completing the information for imaginative restoration.


Imaginative Restoration of Fotuguan

Fotu, which originated from Wutu in Chu dialect, means tiger, so Fotuguan also means Tiger Pass



Image In Place at 2019 UABB

Since the opening of the exhibition, Image in Place remained a very hot spot in “Eyes of the City” section, attracting large numbers of audience. They’d watch attentively in front of the screen, seated or standing, and most would not leave until finishing the entire film.


Image In Place at 2019 UABB

The film also had a very good online performance, with more than 300,000 views online and more than a hundred comments on each platform, showing the viewers’ great enthusiasm in sharing their positive comments and extraordinary feelings about the stunning film.


Image In Place at 2019 UABB

“This film is simply amazing and it will definitely be listed among my favorite of this UABB! It can be regarded as exemplary work of textbook style, be it from digital visualization or video production!”

“I watched it again and again, completely seized and overwhelmed by the history, the powerful data, the high tech quality of the film, and the technological interpretation of the district. I just can’t help marveling at the film and recommending it to others. Thanks.”  

"This is so fantastic. Again and again I watched it, and to be honest, with tears in my eyes. The powerful data, the unprecedented interpretation of history…all so original yet very easy to understand."

“I watched the film on Youtube, and I’d say it’s simply stunning. For one thing, the film itself is a high-quality production, and for another, what the video showed was my home, a high hill where I lived for a dozen of years. I still remember the evenings I spent with my family walking near the cliff after dinner and along the hillside trails of Fotuguan. Frankly, I had no idea until watching the film that those dilapidated monuments in the woods are actually the bone towers in witness of the heavy past of the city. I’d like to express my gratitude to the producer for his unprecedented perspective of the glorious mountain city and I’d also like to welcome everyone to Chongqing! ”


Heaven and Earth: AR Urban Image in Trinity

March 2019


Through UAV aerial photos + aerial survey-based reconstruction + programmed animation, real scenes are synthesized with unified lens parameters into augmented reality. The visual graphics and data are used to present the typical features of the natural landform, building clusters, large-scale infrastructure, historical sites and future construction in Hualongqiao District, Chongqing.

Sequence: A Digital Work Log of a Super High-rise

July 2015


Combining film narration with first-hand design graphics, this video explains how parametric design leads throughout an architectural design project and plays multiple roles in creating complex forms, optimizing engineering details and improving work efficiency. Technically, this video is directly made by creating animation functions on Rhino/Grasshopper, the mainstream architectural parametric design platform, through secondary development. With appropriate adjustment for aesthetic purpose and fine polishing of the narration, the most original and professional details of the engineering graphics are reserved.

Ameba Software Produced Animation

June 2019


Ameba is a topological optimization software (Rhino/Grasshopper) developed by XIE Engineering Technologies Co., Ltd. based on the “Bidirectional Evolutionary Structural Optimization (BESO)” technique of Xie Yimin, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). This animation intends to visualize Xie Yimin’s original and professional design of algorithm with dynamic graphics for the audience and, by directly referencing practical and original cases on the engineering design platform of Rhino/Grasshopper, create dynamic images through programming and produce professional videos. 

Image In Place

Team members

Director, producer: CHEN Hui

Producer: QIAO Liu

Scriptwriter: ZHONG Kai



Environment design: YU Sen

Site reconstruction: Chongqing Paramland Landscape Design Co., Ltd.

Public space consultant: WAN Ziyu / Chongqing Municipal research institute of design

Image Identification: FANG Erqing

To watch the full version of  Image In Place, please go to Bilibili, xinpianchang, Tencent



THEME | Urban Interactions

MAIN VENUE | Futian Railway Station & Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning

SUB-VENUE | Sha Tau Kok Bonded Zone of Yantian District, Bao'an International Art Exhibition Center, Qiaotou Community of Bao’ao District, Ban Xue Gang Hi-Tech Zone of Longgang District, Guanlan Ancient Market of Longgang District, Guangming Cloud Valley, Dapeng Fortress of Dapeng New District, Xichong of Dapeng New District, and Qianhai Cooperation Zone