MetricMonkey update

Back in May last year, we released a preview of MetricMonkey, our feasibility analysis software, which enables architects, urban designers and property developers to evaluate designs in real-time via an interactive dashboard. Since then, we’ve been busy developing MetricMonkey to incorporate much of the initial user feedback we received. Here is a preview of some of the new features.

Mixed-use functionality

We don’t live in the 1960s anymore and no longer is it best practice to have single-use zoning. That’s why we’ve incorporated mixed-use functionality. Switching from one function to another is extremely simple and MetricMonkey takes care of all the associated changes behind the scenes such as floor-to-floor heights. For example, if your current building is assigned the ‘residential’ function with 3.1m floor-to-floor height, and you switch to ‘office’, MetricMonkey will automatically change the floor-to-floor heights to 4.1m (or whatever you specify in the settings). This offers the unprecedented ability for an architect or urban designer to test mixed-use functionality and receive real-time feedback quickly.

With the introduction of mixed-use functionality, we recognised that we also needed different efficiency metrics to cater for different typologies within the same function. For example, a high-rise residential tower, in general, is going to have a lower efficiency compared to a low-rise residential building. MetricMonkey solves this issue by giving the user the ability to define multiple efficiency types per function to achieve more accurate results.

Planning legislation

Ever wondered how planning legislation impacts your development? What would be the benefits of switching development sites or even switching cities? Well, wonder no more because now you can with MetricMonkey’s planning module.

Over the past five or so years with the introduction of open data initiatives, government agencies have slowly been digitalising data sets and making them publicly accessible. While there is still much to do – mostly at a local government level – most state-wide planning legislation is available in a machine-readable format. What does this mean? Well, firstly it means a move away from static PDFs into file formats with structured data. Secondly, it means that this data can be easily integrated and visualised into a range of software. So that’s what we’ve done.

MetricMonkey’s planning module allows users to quickly and easily import planning data sets, such as Sydney’s Local Environmental Plan 2012, Melbourne’s Planning Scheme, and Brisbane’s City Plan 2014. In Sydney, for example, the module imports land zoning, FSR, height of buildings (HOB) and heritage zones. And in Brisbane, we can see all 62, yes 62, land zones! To keep things familiar and avoid choice paralysis, data sets are pre-styled to match the official planning documents.

Context data

Most cloud-based software, which specialises in this domain, integrates Mapbox to visualise contextual data such as buildings and roads. One of the limitations of this approach is what we like to call ‘flat earth’ syndrome. Since the technology is used mostly for maps and wayfinding, 3D topography by default isn’t included. If you’re using this technology to walk or drive to your next meeting, this generally isn’t a problem. However, if you intend on running accurate overshadowing and solar access analyses, then this is hugely problematic.

MetricMonkey solves this problem by allowing users to import GIS datasets into their model in real-world coordinates. This means that depending on your location, MetricMonkey will load in 2D data sets such as cadastre (lot), road centrelines, easements, and suburb outlines, as well as 3D data sets such as topography (Digital Elevation Data). And all these data sets come in at the coordinate system specified, such as GDA94_MGA56.

We’ve also built functionality for you to mix and match contextual data. For example, if you are working in an area undergoing significant urban change and the data sets aren’t up-to-date, you can reference your context model instead.

Site finder

Our user feedback, particularly from developers, suggested that the ability to identify development opportunities would be hugely beneficial. So that’s why we developed our site finder module. The module filters sites by suburb, land zoning, min/max site area, min/max FSR, min/max building height and heritage zones. Soon, as we integrate even more contextual data sets, such as transport and demographics, we’ll be able to feed this into the site finder module to offer even greater insights.

Custom buildings

One of MetricMonkey’s core beliefs is on augmenting, rather than replacing human capabilities so that the designer is always in control of the design. We realised that by only allowing users to create extrusions, we were limiting the solution space. That’s why we developed additional functionality to empower users to generate their own building form. Custom massing can simply be referenced into MetricMonkey and MetricMoney will do the rest – generate floor plates, calculate areas and run environmental analyses. We think this is a pretty neat solution which offers enormous flexibility where more complex form-finding is required.

Dependencies

In its early days, MetricMonkey harnessed the power of the Grasshopper community by integrating many 3rd party plug-ins. While we have a lot of love for these plug-ins, we realised that moving forward, being dependent on 3rd party plug-ins wasn’t sustainable. That’s why we’ve been building our tools from scratch. Not only does this make installing the software more manageable, but it has also brought significant speed benefits. We’ve been benchmarking our results against popular plug-ins like Human, Elefront and Ladybug and have found x2-3 savings. This seems too good to keep to ourselves, so we plan on releasing these components on food4rhino in the coming months for public use.

Importing shapefiles – MetricMonkey vs @IT

Dynamic geometry pipeline – MetricMonkey vs Human

Licensing

In our original manifesto, we spoke of our desire to democratise knowledge so that tools like this can be used by the masses, rather than the select few. We recognised that to achieve this, we needed to lower the entry barrier by moving away from perpetual licensing, and towards subscription. And that’s what we’ve done. Soon, users will be able to sign-up for yearly subscriptions with either a hardware-locked license or a floating license. We hope that by doing this, we encourage even the smallest practice to adopt our cutting-edge technology.

Conclusion

Overall, we’re incredibly excited about what we’ve developed and can’t wait for our customers to start using it. If you’re interested in staying abreast of MetricMonkey’s development, please sign-up to our newsletter. Alternatively, if you are interested in being one of our beta testers, simply fill out the form below, and we’ll be in touch.

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