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Stilla, Uwe

In: Stilla U, Rottensteiner F, Paparoditis N (Eds) CMRT09. IAPRS, Vol. XXXVIII, Part 3/W4 — Paris, France, 3-4 September, 2009
Martin Kada a , Laurence McKinley b
a Institute for Photogrammetry, University of Stuttgart, Geschwister-Scholl-Str. 24D, 70174 Stuttgart, Germany
b Virtual City Systems, Zellescher Weg 3, 01069 Dresden, Germany
Commission III, WG III/4
KEY WORDS: LIDAR, Reconstruction, Building, Automation, Algorithms
The reconstruction of 3D city models has matured in recent years from a research topic and niche market to commercial products and
services. When constructing models on a large scale, it is inevitable to have reconstruction tools available that offer a high level of
automation and reliably produce valid models within the required accuracy. In this paper, we present a 3D building reconstruction
approach, which produces LOD2 models from existing ground plans and airborne LIDAR data. As well-formed roof structures are of
high priority to us, we developed an approach that constructs models by assembling building blocks from a library of parameterized
standard shapes. The basis of our work is a 2D partitioning algorithm that splits a building's footprint into nonintersecting, mostly
quadrangular sections. A particular challenge thereby is to generate a partitioning of the footprint that approximates the general shape
of the outline with as few pieces as possible. Once at hand, each piece is given a roof shape that best fits the LIDAR points in its area
and integrates well with the neighbouring pieces. An implementation of the approach is used now for quite some time in a production
environment and many commercial projects have been successfully completed. The second part of this paper reflects the experiences
that we have made with this approach working on the 3D reconstruction of the entire cities of East Berlin and Cologne.
3D building reconstruction has been a topic for quite some time
now. Many research papers have been published; commercial
services and software are available. (Brenner, 2005), e.g., gives
a good overview of reconstruction methods and points out that
“research is still far from the goal of the initially envisioned
fully automatic reconstruction systems”. This situation has not
yet changed much, although a lot of research is still devoted to
this topic, as can be seen in the multitude of recent publications
(e.g. (Arefi et al., 2008), (Moser et al., 2009), (Sohn et al.,
The subject of this paper is on the generation of realistic 3D city
models in LOD2 as it is defined in the official OGC standard
CityGML (see e.g. (Kolbe, 2009)). At this LOD, buildings have
distinctive roof structures and flat facades that are textured from
terrestrial or oblique aerial images.
As the data basis, we rely on existing ground plans and airborne
LIDAR data. A frequent requirement, especially from customers
within the mainland Europe, is that the provided building
outlines are to be preserved with only little tolerance and that
ridge and eaves heights must be very accurate. This is especially
important so that the facades and roofs can be properly mapped
from oblique aerial images.
The presented reconstruction approach is motivated from our
research on the simplification of 3D building models for map
like representations (Kada, 2007). An integral part of this work
lies on a new method to decompose a 2D building footprint into
a small set of nonintersecting primitives. Although the resulting
partitioning only approximates the original outline, it is still
accurate enough for reconstruction purposes. The benefit is,
however, that the algorithm separates the sections nicely,
especially for residential houses with gabled or hipped roofs.
This eases the task of determining and assembling a valid roof
structure from parameterized, standard shapes.
In the second part of the paper, we give insight into two large-
area projects that we have completed using the described 3D
reconstruction system: East Berlin and Cologne. Figure 1 shows
the reconstructed 3D city model of Berlin with textures mapped
from oblique imagery.
Figure 1. Real-time visualization of the 3D city model of