Which Version™? Exploring the digital modelling of architecturally important sites and the implications on the understanding of the historical narrative the model reflects

Stuhlfelder, Colin (2018) Which Version™? Exploring the digital modelling of architecturally important sites and the implications on the understanding of the historical narrative the model reflects. In: 7th International Congress on Architectural Technology (ICAT 2018): Architectural Technology at the Interfaces, 14-17 June 2018, Belfast, UK.

GURO_What Version-Colin Stuhlfelder.1.pdf

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The preservation of architecturally important buildings and monuments takes on various forms, with the reasons for the need to retain them varying from region to region, nation by nation. The parameters and criteria for this preservation can be informed by politics, economic considerations, the prevailing zeitgeist etc. Similarly, the wanton destruction of architecture can be influenced by numerous agendas, with recent examples including the destruction of the monumental Buddha statues in Afghanistan by the Taliban and the damage to the ancient city of Palmyra by daesh during the ongoing Syrian civil war. With the destruction of architecturally important buildings and monuments, the photographic, archaeological and academic studies related to them have been used to restore as much of the original form as possible. With the advent of digital methods of recording and creating Computer Aided Design models, with the capacity for producing virtual immersive versions, the capacity to both preserve and then share remotely those buildings expands. With particular reference to Palmyra, a city very much on the front line with no guarantee Daesh will not recapture it and recommence their deliberate, targeted cultural destruction, digital models may be the only way to study the city, and preserve it, for the foreseeable future. Cultural vandalism, the destruction or modification of architecture and monuments, the wanton eradication of buildings considered important to some but inconvenient blocks to further development to others, are part of architectural history’s long story. Other instances, such as the destruction of buildings associated with the Nazi regime, can be seen as part of a cathartic exercise of renewal and understandable revenge. However, versions of these buildings exist in fiction and museum models and are likely the source of veneration for those of a particular political perspective. With the range of complexities surrounding what is preserved and why it is preserved, there are questions which arise as to who has control over the preserved model, what time period does it cover, how is ‘Disneyfication’, or the ‘Vegas’ version avoided etc. These will be explored as part of this paper with its aim being the examination of the themes set out here to begin a conversation on how sites like Palmyra can be preserved and recorded. For example, the restoration of Palmyra to a pre-daesh state could arguably include the Tadmur prison, a notorious site for alleged torture since the Assad family came to power. Is it an honest reflection of modern Palmyra, a site made up of influences from civilisations across a 2,000-year period, if its modern reflection as an example of the failure of civilisation is not also recognised and preserved? As will be set out in the emerging conclusions of the paper, the importance of establishing a multifaceted context, and engaging in an inclusive dialogue with all the affected parties is key to attempting to establish What Version™ eventually emerges.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Historical narrative, archaeology, conflict, architecture, digital surveying, digital technologies, augmented reality, conservation
Divisions: Applied Science, Computing and Engineering
Depositing User: Hayley Dennis
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2020 16:47
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2020 16:47
URI: https://glyndwr.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17669

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