You have probably heard by now that one of the most iconic symbols of French history, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame was devastated by fire on Monday 15th April 2019. Within minutes the largely wooden building which took almost 200 years to build was up in flames. After over 15hrs of fire fighting the Parisian fire department managed to control the fire, though at this point the spire and most of the roof was gone. Thankfully due to the renovation work on the 850-year-old building many of the religious artefacts had been removed from the building, such as the crown of thorns.
However, there is still hope for the story yet! Andrew Tallon an architectural historian who died in 2018, used a 3D laser scanner to map the whole Cathedral. It was thought that his scans were to help in the restoration project, recording the buildings condition, with the archaeological recording and building pathology.
Tallon’s laser data consist of 1 billion data points in more than fifty locations over the Cathedral, structured as “point clouds,” which software can render into images of the three-dimensional space. As the first and second stages of the process were finished this will give contractors a massive head start as they can simply detail the existing 3D point cloud to generate a fully-functional, contractible model.
Assassin Creed makers have also offered a lending hand along with a generous £450,000 to the reconstruction.
Over a 24-month period an artistic digital version of the building was created. Though some of the features such as the spire are different in the game. This is because the game is set in the French Revolution and the history of the cathedral architecture, has since changed. Developers have described the virtual Notre Dame as a landmark technical and architectural achievement. Though the digital artist did do an absolutely phenomenal job on the Cathedral, I doubt it will actually be able to be used as the underlying dataset just won’t be suitable for engineers to work with.
With these previous digital mappings and where BIM technology is today, it allows archaeologists to see the site as it was hundreds of years ago to how it is now. It’s truly exciting to see that the real use of modern construction technology can essentially remap and design the famous Cathedral. I can’t wait to witness the reconstruction process and see it restored to its former glory; BIM will save the day!
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