Architectural survey and archaeological analysis of the Píñar Castle as a starting point for its conservation

José Antonio Benavides López, José Mª Martín Civantos, Jorge Rouco Collazo


This paper presents an applied methodology for the graphic documentation, analysis and criteria determination for the protection and conservation of built heritage. One of the main risks when restoring medieval rammed earth architecture is the lacking of an optimal graphic base of its structures. This paper’s main objective is the holistic knowledge of the Píñar fortress (Granada), analysis the building sequence from an archaeological perspective, and performing a rigorous 3D survey of its structures as a fundamental procedure. This survey was carried out applying the new technologies in graphic documentation: Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-based multi-image photogrammetry and Structure-from-Motion (SfM) processing. The new systems of aerial three-dimensional (3D) capture and representation are changing the paradigm in the architectural heritage documentation, being much more efficient and precise. This high-quality documentation is fundamental for the archaeological research of the fortress’ building sequence, remarkably easing research as well as results dissemination. The constructive techniques and building sequence study made with archaeological methodology has revealed the complex historical evolution of Píñar fortress, since it was built in the Almohad period, with important transformations in Nasrid and Castilian periods. These alterations in such a narrow span of time shed light on the importance of this fortification in the border organization in the Late Middle Ages. The experimentation with Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools applied to heritage (HBIM) is showing its great potential in processing data linked to conceptual models, integrating graphic documentation with archaeological and historical interpretation. Nevertheless, the complexity of historical buildings and the hard work of manual modelling are making its wider use in archaeology difficult. The BIM model of Píñar fortress has been enriched with data such as type of material, building technique, chronology, pathologies and modifications, differentiating the historical phases with specific colours to make its identification easier. Its aim is to acquire a better knowledge of the fortress historical evolution, thus allowing the creation of conservation and protection strategies. The holistic knowledge of a building is a complex task that requires the work of different professionals. The ones in charge of the graphic documentation must know the survey objectives and the needs of the rest of the team. The current and future management of heritage requires professionals working on conservation with updated skills in digital technologies. The results of public heritage research with these technologies should be in open access platforms to be used by all researchers and professionals that could need them.


architectural survey; HBIM; graphic documentation; photogrammetry with UAV; building archaeology; defensive architecture

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