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Notre Dame restoration could use utilise 3D models and videogame assets

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17th April 2019

The hugely damaging fire at France’s Notre-Dame de Paris may have destroyed the roof and iconic spire of the 850-year-old cathedral, but not the stone structure nor the famous towers thanks to a heroic effort by firefighters on Monday.

Now as immediate planning & preparation begin for the historic structure’s reconstruction – computer technology, specifically 3D modelling - could play an important role in restoring it to its former Gothic glory.

Historian Andrew Tallon made laser scans of Notre Damn back in 2015, whereby distances between points in the structure were measured to an accuracy of within 5mm.  Some fifty or so scans were then stitched together in 3D with highly detailed panoramic photographs mapped over them to create an astoundingly accurate and three-dimensional model.  You can take a look at Andrew's work here. (YouTube)

It’s digital resources like this, that capture both our historical and contemporary buildings for posterity, that could prove invaluable to restoration and construction experts looking to return a damaged building to it’s former state with as much accuracy as possible. 

Various online news items are also touting a different, perhaps less obvious source of historical detail: The 3D Notre-Dame de Paris that appeared in the videogame: ‘Assassin’s Creed Unity’. (Pictured Top)

Level artist Caroline Miousse who worked on the 2014 game’s digital representation of the famous land mark spent 14 months obsessing over photographic details and building the in-game location and allegedly was concerned about preserving accuracy down to the individual brick level.  A stroll (or rather climb!) around the cathedral in-game might be a familiar and accessible starting point for some of those involved in a restoration task of such magnitude.  Whilst the developer Ubiosoft Montréal has said it has not yet been approached in an official capacity they have stated that they would lend their expertise to help in any way they can, whilst also pledging €500,000 to restoration efforts. 

The increasing use of BIM (Building Information Modelling) in large scale construction project lends itself well to both these types of digital assets which could theoretically be shared with the numerous parties and contractors who may become involved in the future rebuilding work.  There is more and more crossover with regard to careers in construction, architectural design and creative digital skills and pursuits.  You can explore some of the possibilities here on icanbea…

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