When cultural heritage falls victim to the harsh passage of time, technological advancement becomes key to reversing the effects of time. The detailed data capture technique integrates rugged computers and scanners to create a digital model is one of the keys to increasing resilience in future events.
Natural disasters, accidents, wars, and time are wiping out traces of our existence, heritage, and memories. Making conservation efforts more challenging to preserve and document all the magnificent and ancient works of architecture, the cherished vessels of human culture and history. But, thanks to the development of technologies, conservationists can now document and investigate building and intangible heritage in high precision through high-dynamic image ranging.
How Technology in Heritage Conservation is Important
Future restorations rely on accurate documentation of the present. Yet, for a long time, the tools used to measure ancient buildings were nearly as old as the buildings themselves: plumb bobs, rulers, string, and pencils. Using them was not only time-consuming and tedious but also error-prone.
3D laser scanning is one of the reliable solutions to scan the site and send the data to a computer for processing. This scanner shoots 1,000,000 points of light per second, covering every angle. Then the information gathered will be compiled into a 3D point image of the subject, recorded, and imported into a tablet computer to be immediately rendered with accuracy to within a few millimeters.
This technology can help conservationists capture accurate and detailed data than ever before to fill in the missing bits that we previously could not point. Data gathered can then reinforce or create digital models that help with future restorations. At the same time, it can also be used as an educational tool. Museum or site visitors can come and put their hands on the objects that will help them learn about the history.
Technology Saves Notre Dame Cathedral
"Every building moves"
- Prof. Andrew J. Tallon, in a 2015 interview with National Geographic
In 2015, art historian Prof. Andrew Tallon used a portable lasers scanner to accurately capture and record every surface and internal feature of the Notre Dame Cathedral's interior. He determined to unveil the cathedral's original design and the master builder's intentions. Later on, with Notre Dame's damage in April 2019, his scan of the building provides a complete record of the building before the fire and helps understand the craftsmanship. The data also supports the French government in better assessing the damage the cathedral's interior sustained from fire and water damage.
Fast forward to the late-2021, the reconstruction of Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral was finally ready to begin to save the remaining parts of the iconic structure. Including the 96-meter (315-feet) spire made of 1,000 oak trees.
In this process, digital models and innovative tools have taken a significant part of the limelight. A full 3D model of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris has been unveiled to help restore the historic building. The US software firm Autodesk Inc. created the model by comparing laser scans of the structure taken pre-fire and comparing them with scans after the fire. These then combined to create a 3D BIM model of the 12th-century building.
It Must Use Rugged Computers
Government and academic institutions worldwide are pressing to document historical buildings and artifacts as quickly as possible. In recent years, the extreme weather and climate crisis have significantly impacted ancient buildings and artifacts. 3D laser technology has become the primary key to preserving and restoring heritage quickly and accurately.
However, there are challenges in the process of scanning and collecting data. A historic site is usually filled with so many visitors. So, equipment portability is essential, not to mention, the conservations often need to work under the sun, which causes machine temperature to rise. So, it needs to be able to resist heat, and the display must be clear in the sunlight to double-check the data that comes in from the scan.
In addition, digital modeling requires advanced technologies that can support field uses. Such as the solid processor for supporting intensive data computation and capturing the full details in its digitally scanned models. Robust connectivity for smooth connectivity to receive a large amount of data from the 3D laser scanner on-site in real-time. The device's ability to resist water, vibration, wide-range temperature, drop, and dust is a must for outdoor operations.
No one knows what may happen tomorrow. So those tasked with preserving and restoring history are taking a proactive role, working day and night, rain or shine, to document what is still here.
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