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Google Earth is a natural yet still underused place for urban planners to communicate the future of cities. With the addition of the timeline feature it is possible to chart development according to phases of growth. This is exactly what a company in the Netherlands has done to illustrate the proposed changes to the station are in Utrecht.

We have captured and embedded below a short movie illustrating the use of the timeline feature:

Utrecht Urban Growth in Google Earth from digitalurban on Vimeo.

The complete file comes in at 25Mb, note it requires a reasonably powerful machine to ensure a constant frame rate.

Take a look at for full details and the kmz file.


  • Excellent movie you captured from my project!!

    one little thing though, you seem to have the begin date fixed in the time line, so all the “old” buildings stay in view.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is indeed a nice example. However it also shows why GE is not a perfect platform for presenting urban designs: In several camera moves you see that the buildings are hovering over the terrain. This is not so much a problem in the Nehterlands which are to a large extent very flat but in other regions. Unless Google provides a way to include local elevation data I am not convinced of the technology.

  • Tomasz says:

    floating buildings is an error generated by the creator- sketchup allows proper positioning of objects with respect to terrain configuration. unfortunately still we have no choice but to use googles elevation data, unlike world wind which allows users to include their own terrain model.

  • Floating buildings indeed is an creating error, or choice. In the above project it was a choice, because the elevation data that google provided in Utrecht was very inaccurate. And by inaccurate I mean between 4 and 10 metres difference.
    Thats also why I posted a little manual that explains that the terrain option should be turned off, and the 3d buildings as well:

  • ulf jansson says:

    GE has many problems but people are used to the interface so it is potentially a good tool for presenting planning infromation to the public.

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