3D Laser Scanning for Historic Preservation
3 Historic Landmarks Preserved through Digital Archiving
In October of 2013, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the Philippine region of Bohol. In April of 2019, a fierce fire engulfed the roof of Paris’ famous Notre Dame Cathedral claiming the spire and causing devastating damage to the roof and upper walls. Fortunately, a 3D laser scan of Notre Dame exists that serves as a digital blueprint of every inch of the exterior and interior. The scan will likely be utilized in its restoration process. Unfortunately, many of the churches of Bohol were not so lucky. Crumbling to rubble and dust, only photographs and postcards remain. As natural disasters, increased tourism, exposure to environmental elements, and lack of maintenance lend to the decay of historical buildings, preservationists and historians are adopting the use of 3D laser scanning for historic preservation – digitally memorializing and safeguarding these beloved sites for centuries to come. Here are just a few iconic historical sites proactively archived by this technology.
1. Notre Dame Under Fire. Memorialized in 3D.
On a Monday evening in April of 2019 a devastating fire tore across the roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France while the world watched in shock. For 9 hours, the beloved cathedral burned. Flames claimed the cathedral’s famous spire, roof, and upper walls leaving Paris in devastation as it prepared for a financial and logistical course of restorative action.
Rewind to 2015 – American Professor of Art at Vassar College, Andrew Tallon, visits Notre Dame while seeking to “understand how medieval builders erected some of Europe’s great cathedrals.” Using 3D laser scanning, Tallon digitally archived every square millimeter of the structure through billions of data points in the form of a 3D point cloud. It’s believed that Tallons scans will play a crucial role in reviving Notre Dame, but unfortunately, Tallon passed away in 2018 and will never know the impact of his work on likely the most high-profile 3D laser scan to date.
In April of this year, French president Emmanuel Macron announced an ambitious plan to restore the cathedral in 5 years. Original construction of Notre Dame began in 1163. The famous spire was added around 1250, and the cathedral has undergone numerous changes throughout the years from revered cathedral to rundown storage facility and returned to the limelight following the famous novel Hunchback of Notre Dame. Its next chapter impatiently awaits. Although the cathedral may never be a complete replica of what once was, Tallon’s 3D laser scan gives the restoration team the best chance of restoring it to its iconic glory.
2. Tampa’s Famous Jackson Rooming House in Distress
Located in Tampa, Florida, The Jackson Rooming House served as the only “Boarding House of the Stars” during the segregation period. Its walls housed African American superstars and famous activists whose status did not exclude them from the social offenses of the time including Martin Luther King, Jr., James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles. During this era, the house was one of the only places for traveling African Americans to stay in the Tampa area.
Today, the historical 24-room house remains in need of extreme repair. Built in 1901, the house has seen its day and is under pressure from the city to address serious safety issues. With “broken windows, a sagging roof, and splintering walls, it looks as though the slightest breeze could topple the century-old structure,” says the Tampa Bay Times. The local paper reported that a team from the Tampa Bay History Center and the University of South Florida used 3D laser scanning for historic preservation to create a digital point cloud and record every inch of the two-story, 4,000-square-foot building in efforts to preserve its history. Not only will the team use the 3D digital data to create a 3D replica and virtual tour, they may also help replicate and reopen the real Jackson House to the public one day. As of late, beams have been installed to shore up the Jackson House as further plans are in discussion.
3. Belsay Castle Proactively Preserved with Point Clouds
The fourteenth-century Iron Age hillfort castle situated in Belsay, Northumberland, England (14 miles northwest of Newcastle) was originally the home to the prominent Middleton family. Passed down through the family, it was eventually abandoned as a residence in the early nineteenth century when the family built a new Grecian-style residence on the same grounds which became known as Belsay Hall. Although an estate of this magnitude seems indestructible, preservationists have secured it’s history through 3D laser scanning should distaster or the test of time take its toll.
The medieval icon’s famous defense tower dominates the castle and was built as both a statement of family pride as well as protection from conflict and tension in this border region between Scotland and England. The tower is one of the best examples of a still-existing pele tower (also known as peel tower) – similar to a mini castle that is easy to defend. When King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England and brought the two kingdoms under union and relative peace, he decreed that all pele towers should be torn down and that the borders should be known as “Middle Shires”.
Despite the turbulent climate and King James’ ruling to remove pele towers, Belsay Castle and Hall remain a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade I listed building respectively. English Heritage, the non-profit organization administering the estate, undertook laser scanning of the entire grounds to ensure a digital point cloud replica. With the completion of the 3D laser scans, preservationists have ensured its history is protected against exposure to the elements, tourist traffic, and natural disaster.
Bohol Partners with 3D Laser Scanning Specialists for Historic Preservation
After the devasting earthquake of 2013 in the Filipino region of Bohol, 3D technology specialists DigiScript Phillipines began utilizing 3D laser scanning to digitally preserve UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This digital data in the form of high-resolution point clouds, ensures historic buildings can be restored should disaster strike again. The efforts will include four Baroque churches erected during the Spanish colonial period including Paoay Church in Ilocos Norte, Sta. Maria Church in Ilocos Sur, San Agustin Church in Intramuros, and Miagao Church in Iloilo.
Proactive Protection. Digitizing History.
As the fear of natural disasters and foreseen decay weigh heavy on preservationists’ minds, the relief of 3D laser scanning plays a significant role. There’s now a solid, digitally archived backup plan. The partnership between preservationists and skilled 3D laser scanning and modelling professionals is key. Proactive planning with an As-Buit Surveying and Drafting/Modelling team you can trust ensures our century-old buildings are preserved for centuries more to enjoy.
Precision Property Measurements is a full service As-Built Survey and Drafting/Modelling firm who utilizes 3D laser scanning and traditional measuring tools for historic preservation, home remodels, commercial properties, and national brand expansion. PPM serves all 50 U.S. states and has over 17 years of experience in capturing precise, existing building measurements. For more information on our historic preservation As-Built services or other surveys, please reach out to us at [email protected], or visit https://ppmco.net/quote for quick and easy quotes.