Animation Company Brings Floating City to Life
August 19, 2009

Animation Company Brings Floating City to Life

Portsmouth, N.H. - Tangram 3DS, a firm specializing in visualization and computer animation, announced its collaboration with E. Kevin Schopfer AIA, RIBA. Together, the companies have designed and presented a bold new urban platform. New Orleans Arcology Habitat (NOAH) is a proposed urban Arcology (architecture and ecology), whose philosophic underpinnings rest in combining large scale sustainability with concentrated urban structures, and in this case a floating city.
Tangram 3DS worked with Schopfer to visualize this unique concept and
structure. Starting from basic sketches, Tangram 3DS transformed Schopfer's
ideas into visuals and an animation. "Our work helps Kevin convey his
concept to the City of New Orleans, investors, the media, and public," said
Stefan Vittori, president and founder of Tangram 3DS, LLC. "To be able to
visualize a design project in 3D and through animation is absolutely vital
when attempting to sell a design concept that may at first glance be hard to
grasp," adds Vittori.

Why a floating city? There are three major challenges to building in New
Orleans. The first challenge is to overcome both the physical and
psychological damages of recurring severe weather patterns. Though
repopulation has begun, the need to provide a stabilized and safe
environment is paramount to a long-term recovery and economic well being of
New Orleans. The second challenge is that New Orleans has been built at and
below sea levels, which creates a consistently high water table and makes it
prone to flooding and storm surges. The third challenge is that New Orleans
is built on soil condition that consists of thousands of feet of soft soil,
silt and clay. These conditions make building large-scale concentrated
structures difficult. "Believing that NOAH is a viable plan, our solution to
overcome these challenges is to take advantage of these seemingly
conflicting issues with the introduction of a floating urban platform. This
solution is deceptively simple, using water as a controlled, naturally
occurring, bearing foundation, is perfectly feasible and practical," states

As depicted in the 3D renderings by Tangram, given the design's massive
scale -- nearly 1,200 feet tall with a footprint nearly 1/3 of a mile in
diameter -- it was clear that Tangram's imagery would need to depict a
significant amount of downtown New Orleans to contextualize the project. A
3D model of the downtown buildings was combined with satellite and aerial
survey imagery to build a highly-detailed context model in which NOAH could
be placed. This allowed Tangram to create a wide range of imagery, including
aerials that covered dozens of city blocks, which effectively communicated
the ambitious scale of the NOAH project.

When it came time to produce the animation, the massive scene scale combined
with the river and dense activity of the area were extremely challenging to
reproduce faithfully in motion. Tangram teamed up with the team at VFX
Direct, located north of Boston, to further polish the animation frames.
The two teams worked closely to build passes of animated elements that VFX
Direct would include in their final composite of the animation, along with
additional water, smoke, and lighting effects that made the imagery pop.

A triangulate shape has been chosen as the basis for NOAH, given the fact
that a triangle is inherently the most rigid of all structural framing
systems. The triangle also allows for an "open" frame configuration,
dividing NOAH into three separate "towers" converging at the top. The
intent of this open system is to allow all severe weather to in effect "blow
through" the structure in any direction with the minimum of massing
interference. To further dissipate wind loads, the outer edges are curved
and tilted.

"This is a project of tremendous potential which pushes beyond current
expectations for New Orleans and places it in the forefront of the new age
of urban growth possibilities," adds Schopfer. "We hope to one day see it
become reality, and with Tangram's unique experience and expertise, that
reality comes alive today."

To see the project, visit