Create an urban model for the city of Amsterdam

To begin developing projects and plan for Amsterdam’s urban planning initiatives, you will create an empty urban model. Once you have created the urban model, you will add the following important data layers for the area of interest: basemaps, parcel and zoning, space use types and building types, and project status and feedback categories. Adding basemaps and other layers to your urban model is an essential step to creating a robust model so that you can make better decisions about development and redevelopment of your area of interest.

Create the urban model and add basemaps

You will create your urban model in ArcGIS Online. First, you will change the measurement units to metric units, to match the measurements used in Amsterdam.

  1. Sign in to your ArcGIS organizational account.

    If you don't have an organizational account, you can sign up for an ArcGIS free trial.

  2. On the ribbon, click your user name and choose My settings.

    My settings option in menu

  3. In the Units section, click Metric.

    Units set to Metric

    The changes are automatically saved and your units are set to metric. You can change the units back to US Standard at any time.

    Next, you will create an urban model and add basemaps to it. Basemaps contain 3D representations of existing buildings and trees, and make the model look nicer and more realistic.

  4. On the ribbon, click Content and click Create.

    Create button on the main menu


    The menu contains many options for creating various layer types and apps. The available options in your list may be different, as they are based on the licensing for your account.

  5. Click Urban model.

    Option for creating an urban model

  6. On the Create an Urban Model dialog box, set the following properties:
    • For Title, type Amsterdam Urban Model, followed by your initials.
    • For Tags, type Amsterdam and ArcGIS Urban (press Tab after typing the tags).
    • For Summary, type Urban model for the city of Amsterdam.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Click New. Leave the Template set to Empty and click Set up Urban.

    New empty urban model

    An empty urban model appears showing the globe. Next, you will set the default view and add basemaps. Once you set the default view and add basemaps, you will add parcels and zoning feature layers to your urban model. You will use the basemaps and layers in your projects and plans.

  9. In the search field, type Amsterdam and press Enter.

    Search for Amsterdam

  10. From the search results, choose Amsterdam to zoom to it and close the search pane.
  11. Zoom out to adjust the view to Amsterdam and the surrounding areas.

    Zoomed out to the city of Amsterdam to set the default view

  12. On the ribbon, click Manage.

    Manage button

  13. Under Default view, click Set current.

    Set the default view to the current extent

    Now every time you open the overview of this model, it will automatically display the area of Amsterdam that you zoomed to.

  14. In the 3D Base Layers section, for Existing buildings layer for schematic visualization, click the edit button.

    Edit button

  15. Click My content and choose Living Atlas to search content that is publicly shared. In the search field, type 3D Cities Amsterdam and press Enter.
  16. Click the thumbnail for 3D Cities - Amsterdam and click Ok.

    Searching for the 3D cities layer for Amsterdam


    If you click the layer name, the item details page for the layer will open in another tab and the layer will not be added to your model.

  17. In the 3D Base Layers section, for Existing trees layer, click the edit button.
  18. Clear the previous search, and search for 3d bomen wg.
  19. In the search results, click the thumbnail for 3D Bomen WGS and click Ok.

    Trees layer for use in the urban model

You have added two basemaps from ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World to your urban model. Next, you will add a parcels layer for the study area in Amsterdam from ArcGIS Online.

Add parcels to the urban model

Next, you will add a subset of parcel data for the Marktkwartier neighborhood, as you do not need all the parcels in Amsterdam in your urban model.

  1. On the main menu bar, click Layers and choose Parcels.

    Selecting Parcels as the layer to work with

  2. Click Add, modify the search to look in ArcGIS Online, and search for parcels amsterdam.
  3. Locate Parcels_Amsterdam_Marktkwartier owned by Learn_ArcGIS. Click its thumbnail and click Ok.

    Parcels_Amsterdam_Marktkwartier item to add to the urban model


    This layer only contains information for the Marktkwartier neighborhood. To add parcels for the whole city of Amsterdam, you can add Parcels Amsterdam. However, uploading the complete parcels layer takes much more time.

    Next, you will verify that the field mapping is correct.

  4. On the From Feature Layer: Parcels dialog box, and in the Fields in Source column, click OBJECTID and set it to empty (-).

    Set the field to empty

  5. Click Ok. When the process is complete, click Ok again.

    The Parcels_Amsterdam_Marktkwartier layer contains 188 parcels that are now included in your urban model.

Add space use and building types

Next, you will add space use types and building types to your urban model. The data for space use types comes from Dutch regulations on space use, which you can find in the Dutch Kadaster. Building types were used from other existing urban models, and they are not specific to the Dutch context. You can always modify the building types if more precise information becomes available. You will download several spreadsheets that contain space use types, building types, and zoning types, and then add them to your urban model.

  1. Go to ArcGIS Online to access spreadsheets for the lesson.
  2. Click Download and extract the spreadsheets to a folder you can easily remember.
  3. From the ribbon, click Types and choose Space Use Types.

    Space Use Types option for adding data to the urban model

  4. Click Add and choose From Spreadsheet.

    Add space use types from spreadsheet

  5. On the From Spreadsheet: Space Use Types dialog box, click Choose File. Browse to where you saved the spreadsheets and double-click space-use-types-amsterdam.

    Space use types fields mapped

    Fields are matched automatically, so you will accept the defaults and add the new space use types.

  6. Click Ok two times to finish adding space use types.

    Space use types descriptions and symbols

    Each space use type imported from the spreadsheet is listed with its Color, Label, Description, and Join ID. Now that you have added space use types, you will add building types.

  7. On the ribbon, click Types and click Building Types.

    You will add one building type individually so you can learn this method, and then you will add the rest of the buildings from a spreadsheet. Regardless of how you add building types now, you can always add other building types at any time.

  8. Click Add and choose Single Item.

    Adding a single building

  9. On the New Building Type dialog box, for Name, type Mid-Rise Residential.
  10. For Type, click Building.

    New building type set to Building

  11. For Building Parts Configuration, click the add button. For Space Use Type, select Housing. For Number of Floors, type 5 for minimum and 12 for maximum. Leave Massing set to Podium.

    Parameters entered for new mid-rise residential building

  12. Accept the defaults for the other properties and click Ok.

    Your individual mid-rise building type is now created.

    New mid-rise residential building added

    Next, you will add the remaining building types by importing them from one of the spreadsheets that you downloaded earlier.

  13. Click Add and choose From Spreadsheet.
  14. Click Choose File, browse to where you saved the spreadsheets, and double-click building-types-amsterdam.

    Buildings added from spreadsheet

  15. Fields are matched automatically, so click Ok twice to finish.

You have successfully added space use and building types to the model by adding single items and importing many items from a spreadsheet. This information will not show up directly on the map, but it will be important when you start developing new plans.

Add zoning types and a zoning layer

Next, you will add information about zoning to the model. Zoning regulations contain restrictions on which space use types can be used in each parcel, and other building regulations. You will first add zoning types, and then a zoning layer, which displays the zoning features on the map. Data about zoning regulations comes again from the Dutch Kadaster.

  1. On the ribbon, click Types and choose Zoning Types.
  2. Click Add and choose Single Item.
  3. For Label, type AG.
  4. For Join ID, type agrarisch.

    You can use the Join ID to associate this zoning type with the zoning feature layer.

  5. For Description, type Agrarian.
  6. For Color, type #01991f.
  7. For Maximum Coverage, type 45.

    Maximum Coverage is the percentage of a parcel that is covered by buildings.

  8. For Maximum FAR, type 0.45.

    FAR stands for floor area ratio, which is the total amount of floor space compared to the parcel size. A FAR of 0.45 could result in a one-floor building covering 45 percent of the parcel, or could instead result in a three-floor building covering 15 percent of the parcel.

  9. For Maximum Height, type 7.62.

    Agrarian zoning properties

  10. Leave the other parameters unchanged and click Ok.

    Agrarian zoning type added individually

    You have added the Agrarian zoning type individually. Next, you will add the remaining zoning types from a spreadsheet.

  11. Click Add and choose From Spreadsheet.
  12. Click Choose File, browse to where you saved the spreadsheets, and double-click zoning-types-amsterdam.
  13. Fields are matched automatically, so click Ok to add the zoning types. Click Ok again to close the progress window.

    Zoning types added from spreadsheet

    The zoning types with their associated color and description are added. Now that you have added zoning types, you can add a zoning layer that will assign each parcel on the map its zoning type.

  14. On the ribbon, click Layers and click Zoning.
  15. Click Add and verify that you are searching in ArcGIS Online.
  16. Search for zoning amsterdam, click the thumbnail for Zoning_Amsterdam_Marktkwartier by Learn_ArcGIS, and click Ok.

    Zoning layer for Amsterdam added to the model


    This layer only contains zoning features for the Marktkwartier neighborhood. To add zoning for the whole city of Amsterdam, you can add Zoning Amsterdam. However, uploading the complete zoning layer takes much more time.

  17. Under Fields in Source, in the Zoning Type row, click the down arrow and click bestemmingshoofdgroep (which means destination group).

    Field matching for zoning boundaries

  18. Click Ok twice.

Now your model contains all the required information about existing conditions and regulations that you will incorporate into your plans.

Add project status and feedback categories

You have added basemaps, parcels, space use types, building types, zoning features, and zoning types to your urban model. Next, you will add project status types and feedback categories that you will use to label projects according to their status, and to present them for comments. You will also add some buildings manually.

  1. On the ribbon, click Types and choose Project Status Types.
  2. Click Configure and click Add Status.
  3. Under Project Status, click New Status to edit it.

    Adding a new project status

  4. For Name, type Under review. For Icon, click the existing icon, and choose the orange magnifying glass.

    Icon for the Under review project status type

  5. For Description, type The project is currently being reviewed. Do not click Ok as you will add more project status types.

    Under review project status completed

  6. Click Add Status and click New Status. For Name, type Under construction. For Icon, click the current icon and click the blue bulldozer icon.

    Icon for the Under construction project status type

  7. For Description, type Construction work for the project has started.
  8. Add another new status named Approved, assign the teal blue check mark as the icon, and for Description, type The project has been approved but construction has not yet begun.
  9. Add another new status named Complete, assign the green building as the icon, and for Description, type Construction of the project has been completed.

    New project status types created

    The new project status types are added.

  10. Click Ok.
  11. On the main menu, click Types and choose Feedback Categories.
  12. Click Configure, click Add Category, and click New Category.
  13. For Name, type General Feedback and change the Icon to the bubble with the dots in it.

    General feedback icon

  14. Click Ok.
  15. On the ribbon, click Close and zoom in closer to Amsterdam.

    Zoomed in to Amsterdam

The urban model displays the existing buildings and trees that you added. You also added information on the current planning regulations (space use, buildings, zoning, and parcels) that you will use when you develop your plans. Next, you will start to focus more on climate resilience by adding custom indicators.

Add custom indicators

Next, you will add custom indicators, which will help you assess and compare the effects of your plans. In the case of the Marktkwartier area, the location has already been selected, so you will use custom indicators for site analysis. You will focus on custom indicators for bottlenecks.

Find and upload data

To add custom indicators to the model, you will download the data from the City of Amsterdam and upload it to ArcGIS Online. You will add indicators for bottlenecks and green spaces.

  1. In a web browser, copy and paste the link to go to the Open Data portal of the City of Amsterdam.
  2. Click the arrow for Sustainability and click Rainproof – Bottlenecks.

    Rainproof - Bottlenecks item on the open data portal site

    Bottlenecks are areas where water collects and cannot flow away easily, thus creating a risk of flooding. Bottlenecks are a common problem in Amsterdam.

  3. Next to Download:, click .json (GeoJSON) >.

    GeoJSON file to download

  4. Right-click anywhere on the page and choose Save as to save the JSON file to your computer.
  5. In a web browser, open your ArcGIS Online Content page.
  6. Click Add item and choose From your computer.
  7. Click Choose File, browse to the folder where you stored the JSON file, and double-click it.
  8. For Title, type Bottlenecks Amsterdam, followed by your initials.
  9. For Tags, type Amsterdam and bottlenecks.

    Properties for the Bottlenecks Amsterdam item
  10. Click Add Item.

You have successfully downloaded bottlenecks data as a JSON file and added it to ArcGIS Online as a feature layer. Now you can include it in your plans to ensure that you are considering the bottleneck issues while designing your redevelopment scenarios.

Create a web scene

Now that you have added the custom indicator data, you will view it in a web scene. ArcGIS Urban requires data to be in a web scene for adding indicators.

  1. From the Overview page of the Bottlenecks Amsterdam layer, click Open in Scene Viewer.

    Bottlenecks displayed in scene viewer

    The bottlenecks feature layer appears and the scene automatically zooms to its extent. The layer is symbolized using the same color for every feature. You will modify the symbology to unique values and display the bottlenecks in different colors, based on their severity.

  2. In the Designer pane, click Bottlenecks Amsterdam.

    Bottlenecks Amsterdam layer

  3. For Choose the main attribute to visualize, click the down arrow and choose Prioriteit.

    Choose the attribute to visualize in the web scene

    The bottlenecks appear in the scene using the Prioriteit attribute, using a unique value for each priority of bottleneck. You will modify the color for each type, based on the severity, with Urgent being least severe and Extreem urgent being most severe. You will use yellow for least severe, red for most severe, and orange for the middle.

  4. For Choose a drawing style, for 2D Types, click Options.

    Options button for changing the drawing style for 2D features

    Once you click Options, the color for each type of bottleneck appears. The first type of bottleneck, Urgent, is selected. You can change the color for the selected type by clicking the Color icon.

  5. Under the legend for the various types of bottlenecks, click Color for the selected Urgent symbol.

    Click the color to edit it

  6. In the field showing the current color of #ED5151, replace the text with #FFFF00 to set the color to yellow.

    Setting the color for urgent bottlenecks to yellow

  7. Click DONE.

    Urgent color set to yellow

    Urgent bottlenecks will now appear in yellow. Next, you will set the colors for the other two values.

  8. Change the Color for Zeer urgent to #FFAA00.
  9. Change the Color for Extreem urgent to #FF0000.

    Symbology updated for different types of severity

    Now the symbols match the severity of the bottlenecks, which simplifies the interpretation of the bottleneck data.

  10. Click DONE two times, as you are finished modifying the layer.
  11. In the Designer pane, click SAVE SCENE.
  12. For Title, type Bottlenecks Amsterdam, followed by your initials.
  13. For Summary, type Bottlenecks in Amsterdam displayed by severity.
  14. For Tags, type Amsterdam and ArcGIS Urban.

    Properties for the scene

  15. Click SAVE.
  16. On the ribbon, click Home and choose Content to see the new scene item in your content.

    New scene item added to content

You have created a web scene and modified the symbology for the types of bottlenecks. Next, you will add the bottlenecks layer to the urban model so that you can visualize bottlenecks in relation to your scenarios.

Upload an indicator

Next, you will upload the bottlenecks indicator to your urban model.

  1. In the My Content pane, from the list of items, click Amsterdam Urban Model to open the Overview page.
  2. On the Overview page, click Open in ArcGIS Urban.
  3. On the ribbon, click Add and choose Indicator.

    Adding an indicator

  4. On the Indicator Settings dialog box, for Name, type Bottlenecks.
  5. In the Options section, check the check box for Featured.

    Featured option selected for the custom indicator

  6. Click the Sources tab.
  7. In the External Layers section, click the edit button.

    Edit button to choose an external layer


    The bottlenecks layer is the only option for external layers, as Urban automatically filters the items from your content that are applicable to add as an external layer for the indicator.

  8. Click the thumbnail for Bottlenecks Amsterdam and click Ok two times.

    Bottlenecks for Amsterdam


    If the model does not automatically zoom to the bottlenecks layer, click the Zoom To button in the pane.

  9. Zoom to the Marktkwartier neighborhood, near the northwest corner of the area.

    Area of Amsterdam to zoom to

The Marktkwartier neighborhood is bordered by canals to the east and the west, and has a yellow, or low-priority bottleneck in its center. This is an important problem to consider in your plans.

Some other valuable indicators that you can add are Climate-Floods and Green Roofs, also from the City of Amsterdam Maps Data page. The more indicators you add, the more information you will have available to you about your area of interest.

You have created custom indicators, which will help you evaluate your plans to verify that they achieve their goals. Next, you will create a project and plans, while considering the bottleneck problem and trying to solve it.

Create a project and scenarios

Projects are short-term or smaller-scale developments on a parcel or group of parcels. Urban allows you to create a detailed 3D model of the project, or to import preexisting ones. When creating or editing a project, you can propose different scenarios and compare them. Comparing different scenarios gives planners the opportunity to explore and compare future options, set different targets, and see what the compromises to reach targets will be. This process is called backcasting and is quite common in urban planning.

You will create a project in the Marktkwartier neighborhood with the intent of adding new housing units. This is a key target for the city of Amsterdam because the housing shortage is an important issue that planners must address. While considering the housing shortage, the project must also be livable and sustainable.

  1. In the Amsterdam urban model, zoom in to the Marktkwartier area.
  2. On the ribbon, click Add and choose Project.

    Adding a new project to the urban model

  3. Draw a polygon around the area of the project by clicking once to add a vertex to set corners or change direction.

    Drawing a polygon that represents the new project area

  4. Double-click the final vertex to finish the project and click Add Project.

    The Project Settings dialog box appears so that you can enter information about the new project.

  5. On the Project Settings dialog box, set the following properties:
    • For Name, type Marktkwartier project.
    • For Description, type or copy and paste Short-term development for new housing units in the Marktkwartier neighborhood in Amsterdam.
    • For Start Date, change the year to 2012.
    • Under Start Date, uncheck End date same as start date.
    • For End Date, change the year to 2016.
    • Under Options, check Featured.

    Properties for the new project

  6. Click Ok to create the project.

The new project is set up and you can start to edit it. You will create two development scenarios for the area that you identified for comparison.

Build the first scenario

Now that you have created a project, you will edit the first scenario. In this scenario, you will keep things simple and create two large housing buildings.

  1. Click Open to start editing the project.

    Open button to click and then start editing scenario 1


    In the pane, there is an Existing and Scenario 1 toggle button. The Existing option should not be modified, so you will start working on the first scenario.

  2. Under the map area, on the toolbar, click Demolish.

    Demolish button

  3. Click Use Study Area to demolish all existing buildings within the designated area.

    Buildings within study area demolished

    Demolishing the existing parcels provides a clean area, with no parcels, so that you can build your scenario.


    All buildings remain in the existing conditions, so it is important to modify the scenarios and not the existing conditions.

  4. Under the map area, on the toolbar, click Buildings.

    Buildings button

  5. For Height of new building, type 20 and click New Building.

    Adding a new building that is 20 meters high

  6. Draw a new building by clicking once to add corners and double-clicking to finish the building.
  7. Click New Building.
  8. Draw another building within the boundary.

    Buildings added to first scenario


    Your buildings will be different, but that is OK.

    You have added two buildings to the first scenario. In the real world, a parcel may contain elements, such as a parking lot or a row of shrubs, or a water feature. Urban contains tools to create many elements to further enable planners to create a realistic project. From the same toolbar in which you added buildings, you can add ground features, such as grass, water, and concrete, and choose from many types of trees, vehicles, and street furniture.

  9. Under the map area, on the toolbar, click Ground and click Grass.

    Grass button

  10. In the same way in which you drew the buildings, draw some grass areas.

    Grass areas in scenario 1

  11. On the toolbar, click Concrete.

    Button for adding concrete

  12. Draw some Concrete for parking spots.
  13. Experiment with the other tools and add decorative elements, such as water, trees, or street furniture.

    Grass, trees, water, and buildings in scenario 1

    Now the first scenario is ready. This is only a schematic representation, but it gives a good indication of how the project will look in the rest of the urban environment. Next, you will configure the project by adding the new capacity indicators.

  14. On the ribbon, next to Scenario 1, click Configure scenarios.

    Configure scenarios button

  15. Click Scenario 1 to expand it.

    Here you can add information about capacity indicators. The figures that you will use for capacity indicators are not exact numbers but only approximations made from the information available to you. If you were a planner working for the municipality, or for a construction company, you would have access to more precise information.

    Next, you will enter information regarding the modal split and capacity indicators for the scenario. Entering the modal split and the capacity indicators is not mandatory, but it is a useful step in the planning process. The numbers you add now will later be visible in the overview of the project, and they will be a quick way to gain more information about the project. This data is useful to determine whether the project is reaching the target and what compromises must be made to reach the target. For example, a large and tall building can accommodate more households, but it will also produce more CO2.

  16. In the Modal Split section, type the following values:
    • For Walking, type 5.
    • For Cycling, type 40.
    • For Private motor vehicle, type 20.
    • For Public transport, type 35.

    Modal splits for scenario 1

  17. In the New Capacity Indicators section, type the following values for each parameter:
    • Population: 967.
    • Households: 450.
    • Jobs: 0.
    • Parking Spots: 80.
    • Required Parking Spots: 150
    • Daily Trips: 450
    • Energy Use: 3,600.
    • CO2 Emissions: 29.01.
    • Internal Water Use: 103,469.
    • External Water Use: 0.
    • Waste Water: 193,400.
    • Solid Waste: 771.

    New capacity indicators for scenario 1


    The information provided for new capacity indicators was obtained from Statistics Netherlands.

  18. When you are done, click Ok to save the changes to the scenario.

Now the first scenario is ready. Next, you will create an alternate redevelopment scenario for comparison.

Build a second scenario

Having more than one scenario is valuable so that you can visualize how each scenario is similar or different, and determine which is the more optimal scenario for your project. In the same way in which you added scenario 1, you will add another scenario to the project.

  1. On the ribbon, click Configure scenarios and click Add Scenario.
  2. For Scenario Name, type Scenario 2. Leave the other parameter set to Existing Conditions and click Ok twice.
  3. On the ribbon, click Scenario 2 to start editing it.

    Button to select Scenario 2 for editing

    You will make the second scenario different from the first scenario by including many smaller, individual housing units.

  4. Under the map area, on the toolbar, click Demolish. Click Use Study Area to demolish the buildings.

    For this lesson, the area used is all old warehouses, so no one is affected by demolishing. In any instance, it is important to know who and what you are removing when redesigning any space.

  5. On the same toolbar, click Buildings.
  6. For Height of new building, type 6 and click New Building.
  7. Draw several smaller buildings around the perimeter, clicking New Building after you complete each building.

    Buildings drawn into scenario 2

  8. Draw grass and some other elements, such as water and trees, in the scenario.

    Buildings, water, and green areas in scenario 2

  9. On the ribbon, click Configure scenarios.

    Button to configure the settings for scenario 2

  10. Click Scenario 2 to expand it.
  11. In the Modal Split section, type the following values for each parameter:
    • Walking: 5.
    • Cycling: 40.
    • Private motor vehicle: 20.
    • Public transport: 35.
  12. In the New Capacity Indicators section, enter the following values, which assume approximately three households per building:
    • Population: 71.
    • Households: 31.
    • Jobs: 0.
    • Parking Spots: 22.
    • Required Parking Spots: 10.
    • Daily Trips: 71.
    • Energy Use: 271.
    • CO2 Emissions: 2.
    • Internal Water Use: 8.
    • External Water Use: 0.
    • Waste Water: 14200.
    • Solid Waste: 57.
  13. Click Ok to save the changes to the scenario.
  14. On the ribbon, click Close.

Both scenarios in the project are complete. The first scenario offers more housing units and the top of the two large buildings could become green roofs, thus making the buildings more sustainable. However, the space between the buildings is small, and so many housing units would require a larger area for parking. A solution could be to incorporate underground parking, but this would increase the building costs. The second scenario offers fewer households, is more spread out, and contains green areas. The second scenario may be a nicer place to live, but this also means that the prices could be higher. Both scenarios have their pros and cons, therefore it is up to the planner to evaluate them and decide which is more suitable to the initial targets.

When creating scenarios, the goal is to be creative with the design. Here is another example of a project that you can try to re-create:

Potential scenario view from the top Potential scenario viewed in 3D

You have constructed two redevelopment scenarios for the study area that you can compare against the requirements. Next, you will look at plans to propose long-term developments.

Create a zoning plan

Plans in Urban are like projects, in that they also allow you to design and compare different scenarios. However, plans are for long-term developments over a larger area. There are two types of plans: land use and zoning plans. Land use plans allow planners to propose future land use over large areas. Zoning plans usually concern smaller areas and consider zoning regulations. Planners can propose scenarios that consider the existing regulations, or they can alter the existing regulations and propose new ones.

Set up a new zoning plan

You will create a zoning plan for the Marktkwartier neighborhood with the intent of creating a new residential neighborhood, while also making the area more climate proof.

  1. On the ribbon, click Add and choose Zoning Plan.

    Creating a zoning plan

    The Marktkwartier plan is an actual plan developed by the municipality of Amsterdam, in collaboration with a private development company. You will use this plan as an example. The data or the proposed changes that you will develop are not to be considered an exact replica of real-life development.

  2. Draw the following boundary as the area for the plan and click Add Plan.

    Boundary digitized for new zoning plan

  3. On the Plan Settings dialog box, enter the following parameters:
    • For Name, type Marktkwartier zoning plan.
    • For Description, type Urban master plan for a new residential neighborhood with ca. 1700 units, total area 200,000 m2.
    • For Start Date, set the year to 2012.
    • Uncheck End date same as start date.
    • For End Date, set the year to 2023.
    • Under Options, check Featured.
  4. Click Ok to create the plan.

The new zoning plan is added. Next, you will analyze the zoning that exists within the plan area.

Analyze the area

Before you modify and split the zoning for the Marktkwartier area, you will analyze the plan to see the current zoning allocation.

  1. In the pane, click Open to author the plan.

    Open the zoning plan for editing

    You will keep the existing conditions, and work on scenario 1. First, you will observe the existing zoning allocation within the study area.

  2. Click the Zoning tab.

    Various zoning types for the plan

Notice that most of the area is already residential zoning (WNGB), but a large part of it is also zoned Business Park (BSP). Because much of the area is zoned as business park, you must change it to a zoning type that can include residential buildings. You also will change the central area into a green space, which will address the bottleneck problem because vegetation absorbs and stores rainwater better than concrete. Vegetation also diminishes the heat island effect, thus making the area less hot and more livable. For the rest of the area, you will try to maintain the existing regulations.

Edit the zoning

Next, you will create a zoning type that can host a mix of residential and retail and modify the business park zones to this new zoning type. This updated zoning plan will align well with the redevelopment plan of the Marktkwartier area.

  1. On the map, click the northernmost zoning polygon in the Marktkwartier area to select it. Be sure not to click any buildings because you only want the zone selected.

    Select the northern zoning polygon

    The zoning polygon is selected. Now, you will add another zoning polygon to the selection.

  2. Press and hold the Shift key and click the westernmost zoning polygon in the Marktkwartier area.

    Western zoning polygon to select

    You should have two BSP zoned polygons selected.

  3. In the pane, under Selected Zoning, click Modify.

    Modify button to change zoning

  4. Click the Add button to create a zoning type.

    Add button to add zoning type

  5. On the New Zoning Type dialog box, for Label, type MIX-1.
  6. For Description, type Residential and retail.
  7. For Color, type #db678b.
  8. For Maximum Height, type 30.

    Properties for new MIX-1 zoning type


    This is a hypothetical case used to show how to create a zoning type and set properties. In real-world situations, the more precise parameters are, the better the model will work.

  9. Leave all remaining parameters empty and click Ok.
  10. Select MIX-1 from the list to set it as the zoning type for the selected zones. Click outside of any zones (in the road) to clear the selection.

    MIX-1 assigned to selected zones

    The MIX-1 zoning type is now assigned to the zones that you selected and they are symbolized accordingly. Next, you will modify another zone and split it to add green space to help with bottlenecks and residual heat.

  11. On the map, click to select the southernmost zone and the MIX zone just north of it.

    Southernmost zone selected

  12. In the Zoning pane, click Modify and choose MIX-1 as the zoning type.

    Zoning type changed to MIX-1

    The zoning polygons in the map update to the MIX-1 symbol. You have modified all the zoning to accommodate a mix of residential and retail. Next, you will select the southern zone and split it to account for green spaces.

  13. Select only the southern MIX-1 zone.

    Southern MIX-1 zone selected for split

  14. On the vertical toolbar next to the map, click Add and click Split.

    Split button

  15. Draw a line to split the selected zone.

    Drawing a line to split a zoning polygon

  16. Double-click to finish the line and click Split.
  17. On the map, click the new zone section to select it.

    New zone section selected

  18. In the Zoning pane, click Modify and choose GRN, for green space.

    Zoning polygon displays in green space symbol

    You have set one green space and now, you will split another zoning polygon and add another green space.

  19. On the map, click the northernmost MIX-1 zoning polygon to select it.

    Northern MIX-1 zone selected on the map

  20. On the vertical toolbar next to the map, click Split.
  21. Draw a line to split the selected zone.

    Splitting the northernmost zone

  22. Double-click to finish the split line and click Split.
  23. On the map, select the new section, click Modify and set the zoning type to GRN.

    Two new green spaces added

To plan a climate-friendly redevelopment of the Marktkwartier area, you have changed the zoning, split existing zoning polygons, and set them to nature to account for green space. Now that the zoning regulations are adjusted to the purpose of the plan, you can start to develop new buildings.

Develop new buildings

You will now develop new buildings with the intent of creating more housing units, but also to provide some facilities to make the area nicer to live in. You will select the parcels containing the buildings that are in the newly proposed green spaces and demolish them.

  1. Click the Development tab.

    Development tab

  2. In the southernmost green space, select the parcels to demolish by holding the Shift key and selecting multiple parcels.

    Parcels selected in southern green area

  3. On the keyboard, press the C key and pan to the northern green area, if necessary.
  4. Press the Shift key and select the parcels in the northern green area.

    Selected parcels in green areas

    Now you have all the parcels within the designated green spaces selected. Since these areas proposed green spaces, you will demolish the parcels and associated buildings so that you can more accurately visualize the scenarios.

  5. On the Development tab, click Modify and click Demolish.
  6. Click a road to unselect the features.

    Demolished parcels in both green spaces


    It is OK if you cannot select and demolish all the smaller buildings.

    The parcels in the green spaces are demolished. By leaving the green areas free of buildings, planners could allocate the space for a communal park or garden. You will leave the building in between the green areas as it is to preserve some of the historical buildings in the neighbourhood. The inside of the historical building could still be used for market purposes or for community activities. You will continue developing your scenario by modifying more parcels.

  7. Select the two parcels to the west of the southern green area.

    Selected parcels to modify

  8. On the Development tab, click Modify.
  9. From the list of building types, choose Low-Rise Residential. Click a road to clear the selection.

    New low-rise residential parcel

    The parcel is modified and symbolized as Low-Rise-Residential. You will continue to develop more parcels by merging existing adjacent parcels into one.

  10. To the north of the new low-rise residential parcel, skip the next parcel, then select the next two parcels.

    Selected parcels for merging

  11. On the vertical toolbar next to the map, click Split and click Merge.

    Merge button


    The Add tool that was originally on the vertical toolbar has been replaced by the Split tool since it was the last tool used. Whatever tool was used last will be the active tool on the toolbar.

  12. In the Merge Selection message, click Merge to confirm the operation.

    The two parcels are now merged into one. Now that you have one parcel, you will set its type to Low-Rise Residential.

  13. If necessary, select the new parcel you created and the one south of it and click Modify.
  14. Set the building type to Low-Rise Residential and clear the selection.

    New low-rise residential parcels

    All the parcels along the western side of the study area are now set to accommodate low-rise residential buildings. You will continue developing the study area by splitting existing parcels and setting their building type.

  15. Select the parcel on the eastern side of the southern green area.

    Parcel on eastern side selected

    This parcel is not in an ideal position for a building since it would block the other buildings behind it, so you will use the split tool to divide it into smaller parts.

  16. On the vertical toolbar next to the map, click the Split tool, draw a line that cuts across the parcel, and click Split.

    Splitting a parcel by drawing a line through it

  17. Select only the parcel on the left of where you split it.
  18. In the Development pane, click Modify and click Demolish.
  19. Select all the parcels along the eastern edge of the area, by holding the Shift key and clicking parcels.

    All parcels on eastern side selected

  20. In the Development pane, click Modify and choose Low-Rise Residential.

    The scenario is looking great. You will set other parcels as offices, retail, and hotels to complete the scenario.

  21. Select the parcels just north of the new low-rise residential buildings you just modified.

    Parcels selected to set as mid-rise residential with office

  22. In the Development pane, click Modify and choose Mid-Rise Residential w/ Office.
  23. To the north of the parcels you just modified, select some and modify them to Retail Urban Department Store, and select others and modify them to Mid-Rise Hotel.

    Retail urban development store

    The mid-rise buildings appear the same as the low-rise buildings, but they are actually taller. You cannot tell the difference when viewing the model in 2D. When you view the model in 3D, you will see the height difference.

  24. On the vertical toolbar next to the map, click 3D and experiment with tilting the view.

    Finished plan viewed in 3D

After about an hour of work, your plan is looking great and contains green space and a mixture of building types that comply with the redevelopment standards. You have built a viable plan, while maintaining the green spaces, which are important for the community life of the neighborhood, but also for increasing climate resilience.

Analyze the plan

Once you are done developing the plan, it is important to analyze the changes that you are proposing. You can analyze the types of zoning, space use, and capacity indicators for your proposed development plan.

  1. Click the Zoning tab.

    Zoning proportions in your development scenario

    The values you explore for zoning, space use types, and capacity indicators may differ from your values.

    The proportions of the different zoning types in the scenario appear. You can see the proportions of the new MIX-1 zoning type and the GRN zoning type that you set in two different areas. Here, you can analyze how much of each zoning type there are. For example, you may have to include a specified amount of green space in an area and you can check the proportions here.

  2. Click the Development tab and click Space Use.

    Space use in the plan

    The proportions of the different space use types in the scenario appear.

  3. Click the Capacity tab.

    Capacity indicators for the plan

Here you can see the new capacity indicators and the changes that the proposed developments would imply. For each capacity indicator, you can set the target that you wanted to achieve so that you can see if the target was reached. Capacity indicators are a valuable part of this process, as they provide an overview of the changes over time that every proposed scenario would imply.

As you can see, the scenario you developed does not reach the target yet, thus you might still want to work on it to reach the target. Unfortunately, these indicators do not tell you much about the other goal: climate-proofing the neighborhood; but you addressed the bottleneck problem by adding two green areas in the center.


To compare all the indicators in a table, click Study area and click Download to download a spreadsheet.

Are you happy with the results you achieved? If not, you can always go back to editing the plan. Remember that achieving a certain target always implies compromising other factors. For example, creating many households could lead to having an overly dense neighborhood without any green space or with buildings that are too high for the existing regulations. Presenting and comparing different scenarios can again be helpful for evaluating the costs and benefits of proposed developments.

Publish the plan

Next, you will publish the plan so it is available to the public. Publishing to the public allows those without an ArcGIS Online account to view the projects and plans that you create.

  1. On the ribbon, click Marktkwartier zoning plan.

    Publish the plan

    Once you click Publish, you can select the elements that you want to make available to others. You may not want to publish every element in your plan.

  2. Select Scenario 1, Future Buildings, Color space use, Zoning, and Study Area.

    Items included in the published plan

    You have selected the elements that you want to include in the published plan. Once your plan is published, go back to the overview, and now you will be able to see the plan in the overview.

Your zoning plan for the Marktkwartier area is now complete. First, you changed the zoning regulations, then developed new buildings, and finally analyzed the scenario. This last step is probably the most important one, as it means evaluating the extent to which the proposed development met the initial targets. All work would be irrelevant without an extensive analysis of your results and proposed solutions. Such analysis refers to the originally identified problems and targets, and it should answer these questions:

  • What targets do my proposed solutions meet?
  • What compromises do my proposed solutions imply?
  • How do my proposed solutions address the identified environmental problems?
  • How will my proposed solutions affect the environment in the future?

It is also important to understand and analyze the difference between plans and projects, and what role they play in climate-proof planning. Planning is not a simple straightforward process, but it happens throughout a long timeline. Including both projects and plans in an urban model helps to identify different moments in the workflow. Another difference is that projects are more concerned with individual buildings or parcels, while plans show the proposed replanning of the space in a whole neighborhood. When creating projects, you must insert the capacity indicators manually, while with plans, the capacity indicators are generated automatically.

Enable public engagement

An important part of planning is to engage with the different stakeholders, including the public. Urban is a web-based tool and allows users to share files, create groups, and adjust the sharing and editing of files. Planners can share an urban model with their planning team, and everyone can see and edit the content. Planners can also share the urban model with a client, while locking editing so that no new changes can be made by anyone but the owner. Urban also has a feedback feature through which the public, or anyone with a link to the project or an ArcGIS Online account, can post comments on plans and projects. It is vital for planners to take these comments into consideration, because climate-proof change requires full public support to be implemented efficiently.

Allow for feedback

The first step toward public engagement is to enable feedback in your model.

  1. On the ribbon, click Manage.

    Manage button

  2. For Public Engagement, click Enabled.

    Public engagement enabled

    The public can only access the project and provide feedback if some elements are set to public. It is common to work on your urban model privately, and then share it to the public when you are finished. Next, you will change the sharing level for several of the items you have created to everyone, so the public can access your work.

  3. Go to your ArcGIS Online account page and click the Content tab.
  4. Click your Amsterdam Urban Model to view its overview page.
  5. Click Share, choose Everyone, and click Save.
  6. Click the back arrow in the browser to return to the Content page.
  7. Click Amsterdam Urban Model Public View.
  8. On the Overview page, click Share, choose Everyone, and click Save.

    Next, you will enable feedback for the Marktkwartier project and the Marktkwartier plan. The public can only comment on the plans or projects that have feedback enabled.

  9. On the browser tab that contains the urban model, click Close and click Projects.

    Projects button

  10. Click Marktkwartier project and click Settings.
  11. Click the Sharing tab.
  12. Under Urban Model, click Copy to public content to create a public copy of your plan.
  13. Click the Feedback tab and click Enabled.

    Feedback enabled

    Next, you will ensure that your plan is locked for editing to other users.

  14. On the Project Settings dialog box, click Lock editing for other users and click Ok.
  15. Close the Projects pane and click Plans.

    Plans button

  16. Click Marktkwartier zoning plan and click Settings.
  17. Click Sharing and click Copy to public content.
  18. Click Lock editing for other users and click Ok.

Now all the settings are ready and you can test what the public view of your urban model looks like.

Test public feedback

Next, you will test the feedback capability of the urban model.

  1. In your urban model, click the Share button.

    Share button

    Once you share the urban model, you get two links in the Link and Embed tabs. The link in the Link tab is for accessing the model, and the link in the Embed tab is for using the model as embedded content in other apps.

  2. On the Link tab, highlight the link and copy it.

    Next, you will test to see whether the link works for people without an ArcGIS Online account.

  3. On the other browser tab, sign out of your ArcGIS Online account.
  4. Copy the link into the address bar to go to the public view of your model.

    From there, you can see projects, plans, and indicators, but you cannot edit anything.

  5. Click Plans.
  6. Click your Marktkwartier zoning plan and click Open.
  7. Zoom in and explore the Marktkwartier project.
  8. Switch between scenarios 1 and 2 to see the differences between them.
  9. In the pane, scroll down and you will find the feedback section.

Now if you go back to your urban model, you can see the feedback to each plan or project. You can see the feedback by clicking a plan or project and viewing the Information tab.

You have created an urban model for the city of Amsterdam. Then, you used this model to create a project and zoning plan geared toward creating more housing, while also making the Marktkwartier area more climate proof. You added green spaces to collect and store rainwater and to decrease the heat island effect. Finally, you learned the importance of analyzing your proposed scenarios, evaluating the pros and cons of each, and incorporating feedback from the public. These are all important steps in the planning process.