Application of Virtual Anastylosis Techniques for Architectural Research

Grant Agreement ID: 894785

Architectural heritage is a resource of multiple dimensions (cultural, social and economic) that greatly enriches the societies in which they are located (provided they protect it). These assets are the symbol of regions, cities and towns, and are linked to their social sentiment and cultural identity and are often the basis for the development of activities on which the economy is based, such as tourism. Monumental heritage reflects the history of a territory, and is capable of tracing the passage of different civilizations. Its value is unquestionable, but its conservation and maintenance is not always feasible. They are very fragile elements that have suffered the effects and consequences of historical and natural events that have modified, altered and, in the worst of cases, even destroyed them. The conservation of this built heritage is one of the aspects that any advanced society must inevitably address. Today, apart from the deterioration due to the passage of time, the impact of meteorological agents and the effects of climate change, these assets are exposed to other constant threats, such as: a) their abandonment (due to depopulation or lack of funds for their maintenance) or loss of functionality or use; b) destructive actions towards these assets (vandalism and armed conflicts); c) accidents such as the one that happened at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; d) other types of components that are difficult to predict such as natural catastrophes, earthquakes, among others; e) without forgetting other circumstances linked to human action, such as poor planning, management or maintenance of these assets (uncontrolled tourism, corrective repairs…). All these factors make the protection, management, research, dissemination, improvement, conservation and safeguarding of architectural heritage at a global level, a very complicated task.

This project intends to advance in the intervention (liberation or consolidation) and conservation (restoration or reconstruction) of abandoned, destroyed or ruined buildings, through a methodology that allows us to explore the cultural and social significance of these architectural assets or to explore the use or function that can be assigned to them. In this way, it will be possible to carry out these works while maintaining the integrity and identity of the asset. At present, there is no systematic policy for the reconstruction of destroyed cultural heritage.

Initial hypothesis:

Anastylosis refers to the technique of reconstructing damaged monuments, thanks to the methodical study of the different elements that make up its architecture. This movement emerged in the nineteenth century as a reaction to industrialization. Architects began to restore the missing parts of ancient cultural buildings to recover their past splendor. For anastylosis, historical data, temporal analyses and the current study of the element, are fundamental components that serve as a basis for decision making in CH reconstruction, restoration, management and dissemination. The ambitious purpose of AVATAR (Application of Virtual Anastylosis Techniques for Architectural Research) project is to contribute to anastylosis techniques with a new approach based on the latest technological fields.

The methodology of this project is as follows: Digital Twin (DT) approach will allow us to have a digital representation (avatar) of the current status of the CH site, also providing coherent and coordinated information related to the use cycle of CH elements. Thanks to the information of the current state of a site and the data obtained from historical sources and temporal analyses, it is possible to create multi-temporal virtual 4D reconstructions of the CH. A diachronic model of CH assets will be available, that is, a set of 3D models to represent CH in various historical phases. This type of reconstruction seeks a better understanding of CH, enriching historical hypotheses. This technology will also allow for the management of CH, as well as the simulation and comprehensive monitoring of future CH reconstruction or rehabilitation projects. Nevertheless, there are numerous challenges in 4D modelling, that will be approached in this project using the most modern techniques and technologies. On the one hand, thanks to the Geomatics and Geophysics, we will have the exterior and interior geometry of the CH, providing these techniques the descriptive model required in every DT. On the other hand, Computer Vision (CV) through Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning (DL) technologies will allow the identification of the specifications, needs and requirements of the DT of each CH asset to understand the required information levels of the 4D models (4DM).

These techniques will intervene in the different stages of creation of the 4DM required in DT, being used in: (i) the integration of the different heterogeneous data sources; (ii) when determining the structural components, materials and technologies that should be implemented in the different reconstruction scales of CH assets; (iii) providing guidelines in management and maintenance; (iv) or even obtaining data on the behavior of the CH in the future in order to preserve them for future generations. In this way, the 4DM required in the DT will be predictive/prescriptive models.

Data obtained from DT and the 4DM generated can be used for other purposes. Thus, it will be possible to design future reconstruction projects of CH under study thanks to the Building Information Modelling (BIM) systems that will allow optimizing both the process and resources for asset management in the different CH reconstruction stages. 4DM will also be used for diffusion and educative purposes, thanks to the use of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Thus, we can provide a new cultural experience for society, allowing users to emerge themselves into the cultures of the past in much more interactive and invigorating way. The objectives of this project is to provide a means for preserving the multiple symbolic and historic aspects of CH, allowing for the use of assets as a means of connecting the user with CH through the use of historical knowledge and innovative STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) technologies, favouring and motivating the flow of tourism, and thus enriching the affected societies.


Three research WPs (WP1-WP3) will be implemented to pursue three Objectives:

WP1: Design of prescriptive model characterization procedures in CH

T1.1: Historical data and temporal analyses.

T1.2: External geometry (metric data)

T1.3: Internal geometry (metric data)

T1.4: Data homogenization (CV)

T1.5: Prescriptive model


WP2: Design of Predictive/Prescriptive model characterization procedures in CH

T2.1: Development of an interoperability and geospatial data base

T2.2: Development of a methodology for the transferring of data to DT through CV

T2.3: Design and development of algorithms and indicators of diagnostic, anomalies, modelling, and others

T2.4: Generation of predictions in 4DM environments

T2.5: Validation tests and conclusions


WP3: Management and diffusion of CH

T3.1: Generation of a methodology to transferring the 4DM to BIM

T3.2: Generation of a methodology to transferring the 4DM to VR