3D geovisualizations in human-centered quality assessments of urban and green spaces — from point clouds to nonabsolute spaces

Kaisa Jaalama

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Through technological advancement, vertical, three-dimensional (3D) geoinformation has been designated to fulfil the horizontal, two-dimensional data resources and viewpoint of the environment. However, 3D geovisualizations are still divergent and unstandardized. This also applies to our understanding of their impact on society—their ability to imitate their physical counterparts as a lived environment and places as a social entity. While a range of studies presents solutions and applications for 3D geovisualizations, fewer focus on their critical examination in human-centered urban and green space assessments in an interdisciplinary way. This dissertation contributed to filling this gap by presenting three case studies conducted with 3D geovisualizations. First, the role of 3D point cloud data acquisition was tested for objective-deductive urban green assessments with a green factor framework. Second, the applicability of 3D geovisualizations was tested for subjective-inductive assessments in terms of perceived affordances of an urban park deck, using in-situ-based interview data as a reference in the analysis of the virtual reality-based interview data. Third, the role of subjective place relations with perceived realism (i.e., sense of presence) and subjective place meanings (i.e., sense of place) in subjective-inductive assessments with 3D geovisualizations was demonstrated. Finally, a framework presenting distinct knowledge approaches with 3D geovisualizations was reconciled. The results show that design for data capture is an interplay of the respective framework, individual characteristics of the physical properties, measurement devices, and additional information sources available. Future frameworks for assessment tasks, such as green efficiency in cities, should be designed to include the possibilities of vertical strata and volume. Further, the results show that most of the dimensions of green space affordances were at least to some extent perceivable in a subjective-inductive assessment through 3D geovisualization. Compared to the in-situ interview data, challenges with 3D geovisualization were linked to the weaker perception of surroundings outside the park deck, lack of social clues, and deficits in visual detail and coherency. The results underline the perception-altering role of prior familiarity with the geovisualized place both for the sense of presence and sense of place. Visual realism and spatial presence can enforce the communicative effectiveness of 3D geovisualizations, but so can prior familiarity with the place. The results demonstrate that, apart from objective-deductive methods, urban and green space planning can benefit from subjective-inductive assessments with 3D geovisualizations. A central outcome is that 3D geovisualization possesses possibilities for distinct knowledge approaches that contribute to each other in a co-productive manner.
Translated title of the contribution3D-geovisualisoinnit kaupunki- ja viherympäristöjen ihmiskeskeisissä arvioinneissa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Vaaja, Matti Tapio, Supervising Professor
  • Hyyppä, Hannu, Thesis Advisor
  • Fagerholm, Nora, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0925-2
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0926-9
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • 3D geovisualization
  • 3D measurement
  • point clouds
  • urban space
  • green space
  • human-centered assessments
  • knowledge approaches


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