3D buildings in Google Maps + Earth feature

Salam. I guess its going to be series of 3D topics from now on. In this entry, I’d like to share few things about viewing the 3D building in Google Maps.

Two years ago I have debated over Wikimapia vs Google Earth. Since then, Google Maps has been developed rapidly by developers. Now you can view 3D building in Google Maps, but you have to install the Earth plugin first. If you haven’t try it, let’s do it now.

Go to Google Maps and click on the Earth button to start downloading. Restart your browser once the installation has finished.

Please note that this plugin is only work for Google Chrome 1.0+, Internet Explorer 6+, Firefox 2.0+ and Flock 1.0+.

Viewing 3D buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Now, you can see the 3D buildings. Currently, there are few famous buildings and skycrapers are available in Kuala Lumpur. At first, I wonder how come Google can come up with 3D buildings in KL? Where do they get all the measurement, specifications of these buildings?

Google got it from Google 3D Warehouse

After thinking for a while, this is where Google collected those 3D buildings. I never thought that SketchUp that I’ve been using since 2004, now has been utilised fully by Google. Yes, they have integrated with Earth since SketchUp 6 version. And finally, they also had integrated with Google Maps.

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Google Earth vs Google Maps

Personally, I don’t have Google Earth software in both my PC and netbook. Anyhow, installing an Earth plugin should not be much problem for most of us. I wonder if Google will stop develop Google Earth and probably they will take more Earth features into Maps.

Some 3D building size is relatively smaller than JPEGs

Yes, this is one thing that you should have known. Loading 3D models is relatively faster than viewing the JPEGs photos. For example, the 3D SketchUp model of Tabung Haji tower is only 109kb and you can see it in 3D. While the large size of Tabung Haji building photo with 1200×1600 resolution image is 221kb (with minimum optimization).

How do they contribute these models into Earth or Maps?

For a simple 3D building model, they shape is just a cube with maps on each sides. In this case, I guess 3D model architecture visualizer (archviz) will have the technical drawing for producing artistic impression. But instead of producing the 3D perspective, they also can wait for the building to complete and take the picture of the reflected windows as the texture of the building. I like how the Bank Simpanan Nasional building looks with building reflection on the window. (which is actually just a texture).


Google had come up with another way of using its service once again. I hope that more and more 3D enthusiast, students, modeller and archviz people will contribute more 3D model of Malaysia, especially in Kuala Lumpur. I also hope that Google can include the name of the buildings while people are viewing in Earth mode.

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