A Historical Timber Frame Model for Diagnosis and Documentation before Building Restoration

A Historical Timber Frame Model for Diagnosis and Documentation before Building Restoration

Mathieu Koehl (Laboratoire ICube, INSA de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France), Anthony Viale (Laboratoire ICube, INSA de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France) and Sophie Reeb (Les Ateliers de la Seigneurie, Barr, France)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/IJ3DIM.2015100103
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The aim of the project that is described in this paper was to define a four-level timber frame survey mode of a historical building: the so-called “Andlau's Seigniory”, Alsace, France. This historical building was built in the late XVIth century and was in a stage of renovation in order to become a heritage interpretation centre. The used measurement methods combine Total Station measurements, Photogrammetry and 3D Terrestrial Laser scanner. Different modelling workflows were tested and compared according to the data acquisition method, but also according to the characteristics of the reconstructed model in terms of accuracy and level of detail. 3D geometric modelling of the entire structure was performed including modelling the degree of detail adapted to the needs. The described 3D timber framework exists now in different versions, from a theoretical and geometrical one up to a very detailed one, in which measurements and evaluation of deformation by time are potentially allowed. The virtually generated models involving archaeologists, architects, historians and specialists in historical crafts, are intended to be used during the four stages of the project: (i) knowledge of the current state of needs for diagnosis and understanding of former construction techniques; (ii) preparation and evaluation of restoration steps; (iii) knowledge and documentation concerning the archaeological object; (iv) transmission and dissemination of knowledge through the implementation of museum animations. Among the generated models one can also find a documentation of the site in the form of virtual tours created from panoramic photographs before and during the restoration works. Finally, the timber framework model was structured and integrated into a 3D GIS, where the association of descriptive and complementary digital documents was possible. Both offer tools leading to the diagnosis, the understanding of the structure, knowledge dissemination, documentation and the creation of educational activities. The integration of these measurements in a historical information system will lead to the creation of an interactive model and the creation of a digital visual display unit for consultation. It will be offered to any public to understand interactively the art of constructing a Renaissance structure, with detailed photos, descriptive texts and graphics. The 3D digital model of the framework will be used directly in the interpretation path, within the space dedicated to “Seigniory” of Andlau. An interactive touch-screen will be installed. It will incorporate several levels of playgrounds (playful, evocative and teaching). In a virtual way, it will deal with the different stages of building a wooden framework and clarify the art of construction.
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Study Purpose

The building that is subject of this study is located in Andlau, a small town of about 1850 residents located 40 km south of Strasbourg, Alsace, France.


The so-called “Seigniory” is a symbolic building of Andlau that is widely known in the region. This building was built in 1582 by one of Frederic d’Andlau’s four sons. Andlau lords, vassals of the abbey, had several residences in the small town of Andlau.

This former mansion boasts the architecture in vogue at the end of the XVIth century (Renaissance), materialized by polygonal tower hosting a spiral staircase. The property was the residence of the Counts of Andlau from the XVIth century to the French Revolution (1789). The ground floor was occupied by the pantry and shops, the main floor by the main apartments, the second floor by the bedrooms, and the attic by vast granaries. The cellar was originally the tithe cellar. An attic for salt stood formerly on the south end of the property.

Formerly called “Red House” in relation to the name of one of the owners, Mr Charles Rouge (Red in French) (1900), the building then took the generic denomination of Lordship (“Seigniory”). It is noteworthy that Mr Charles Rouge, painter, collector and design theorist, turned his house into a museum, where he taught young people the art of drawing. He was also the author of a book: Drawing for All. In 1934, the facades of the main building were listed on the supplementary inventory of French historic monuments. The town of Andlau became the owner of the “Seigniory” in January 2005. The landscape and the geographical location significantly contribute to cultural development and have an influence on tourism in the centre of Alsace. This place, pregnant with history, hosts now the Heritage Interpretation Centre (HIC), a lively place, open and accessible to all, valuing the heritage and knowledge of yesterday and today.


The “Seigniory” was completely restored to welcome the HIC. Besides, it was endowed with a modern extension that grants the reception of the public in optimal conditions. The ground-floor has been fitted out in a space dedicated to temporary exhibitions, both house floors and first level of the attic will be dedicated to the permanent exhibition (path of interpretation), the second level of the attic will host the administrative part and the last two levels will stay as they are. Indeed, the works of restoration had tend to cover and to hide the largest part of the frame from view; the upper parts, very characteristic of the construction mode of the Renaissance, will not be accessible any more, nor visible for visitors.

Modelling allowed to maintain and visualize, and even to extract and measure frame’s parts that cannot be more reached. Figures 1 (a, b, c, d) show some examples of interesting elements modelled and studied within the scope of this restoration: we find various types of assemblies and detect disorders.

Figure 1.

(a) and (b) Framework assemblies. (c) and (d) Assembly deformation


Aim of the Study

In this context a modelling of the structure was required to allow recording, to make diagnoses, to know and to consolidate the knowledge on this type of historic wooden frame. A virtual display has enabled other applications, especially the provision of models for animations (Figure 2); it also defined the fundamentals of an Information System and supply the future HIC with digital data.

Figure 2.

(a) “Seigniory” South and East facades. (b) “Seigniory” South and West facades. (c) Cross section (Ateliers, 2014). (d) Textured CAD model


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