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Available languages — OpenBuildingModels
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Browsing a 3D model on the main page of the OpenBuildingModels platform

OpenBuildingModels was a free-to-use online repository for architectural 3D building models. It had been developed within a research project at the Chair of GIScience, University of Heidelberg and was available online under The spiritual successor is 3D Model Repository.


3D Development plays a more and more important role in the OSM community. However, modelling 3D objects with only nodes, ways, relations and tags is very difficult to do. It only allows for a modelling up to a certain level of detail. Very complex 3D structures like architectural building models are hard if not impossible to model. As discussed at the 2nd 3D Workshop Garching, the use of external repositories is more appropriate for this. The data in these repositories can then be linked to the OSM world.

OpenBuildingModels was such a repository dedicated to architectural 3D building models. The idea was that anyone could contribute to it by uploading a model, and models could be downloaded for any purpose. They were released under the Open Database License. The project is strongly linked to OSM-3D, since the uploaded models appear in this OSM globe (see below). However, the link to OSM(-3D) is not mandatory and the models can also be used for any other purpose.

For more details about the objectives of the OpenBuildingModels platform, please refer to the Publications listed at the bottom of this page.

Web Platform

Geo-referencing a 3D model with the OpenBuildingModels platform

Try it out yourself!

The OpenBuildingModels web platform allows to:

  • browse, view and download existing models in the repository
  • upload your own model for a certain building mapped in OSM

The upload workflow is roughly as follows:

  • Browse the map and select a building where you want to upload a 3D model for
  • Upload the model (max. 5 MB)
  • Upload necessary textures (max. 5 MB, max. 50 textures)
  • Geo-reference the model, i.e. place it in the real world as accurately as possible
  • Provide model details (title, description etc.)
  • Link it to OSM (optional, see "Tagging" below)
  • Store model


The link of the 3D models in the repository to OpenStreetMap is established with a new tag called building:obm=*. The value of this tag is the unique ID of an OpenBuildingModels model. That is, if you want to link an OSM building (way) to OpenBuildingModels (OBM), you just need to look up the ID on the website and add this tag accordingly. The web platform also offers to do this automatically for you at the end of the upload process, if desired.

Appearance in OSM-3D

Visualisation of OpenBuildingModels contents in OSM-3D

OpenBuildingModels is strongly linked to the OSM-3D project. Uploaded 3D models with a valid OSM link can be displayed in OSM-3D instead of the default building blocks. Hence, the level of detail in crowdsourced 3D city models is greatly improved.

Limitations / Future Work

The current prototypical platform still has some limitations:

  • Only the VRML format is supported so far; a tool like MeshLab can be used for converting from other formats
  • The server providing the data of the existing models in the repository as well as the building geometries is currently very instable and often down
  • 3D models can only be uploaded for buildings that are already mapped in OSM
  • The geo-referencing of rectangular or square buildings can be ambiguous

Possible future work on this project includes:

  • Allow for other 3D formats
  • Provide a user login system
  • Provide an API or Web Service in order to enable other 3D viewers to include the models
  • Extend repository to not only support buildings but also other prototypical 3D objects like lamp posts, benches, trees ...
  • Online Editor for 3D-Models


See also