Dissemination, assessment and management of historic buildings by thematic virtual tours and 3D models

Mariella De Fino, Silvana Bruno, Fabio Fatiguso

Abstract

The digitalization of the historical-architectural heritage for virtual reality (VR) applications is crucial within the contemporary scientific and technical debate for several aspects. In fact, beyond the exploration for education and entertainment purposes, the employment of three-dimensional (3D) reality-based and computer-based models and environments seems to be very promising for performance assessment and risk management as well. Particularly, in order to develop and validate smart, low-cost and user-friendly tools, which might apply even in cases of limited time and budget, the present paper is going to propose a methodological workflow based on thematic virtual tours of 360° scenes, which integrate a variety of informative contents and digital products as external hotspots/switches. The VR tours, where 3D models might play a key role for an accurate representation of relevant parts and/or analytical elaboration of further data, are conceived as flexible and scalable solutions, supporting users, technicians and authorities through remote access, diagnosis of the state of conservation and communication of safety measures. The application of the proposed methods and techniques to a representative case study, the Norman-Swabian Castle of Gioia del Colle (Ba), South Italy, is presented in order to illustrate the achievable results and highlight the benefit of innovative “digital” solutions for data collection, storage and communication, compared to the traditional “analogical” practices. In detail, a Web-GIS platform, developed within a previous research project, is integrated with direct links to three thematic virtual tours that provide added contents for inclusive dissemination (timeline schemes, aerial views, 3D sculptural and architectural details), performance assessment (diagnostic reports, decay maps, 3D reconstructions of technical components) and risk management (exit signs, help instructions, warnings). Thus, the VR tours, while documenting realistically the state of the site, might act as host environments of digital products, at increasing complexity, all displayed according to an intuitive and accessible communication approach.

Highlights:

• Virtual tours of 360° scenes, linking thematic digital contents, are proposed as intuitive and versatile tools for smart documentation, conservation and protection of historical buildings.

• The role of 3D reality-based and computer-based models is discussed toward their integration and correlation within thematic virtual tours of 360° scenes.

• The potential of immersive environments for sharing knowledge about conservation issues and training users on safety measures in historic buildings is underlined.


Keywords

virtual reality; 3D model; architectural heritage; inclusive dissemination; decay diagnosis; safety training

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