San Pietro di Deca in Torrenova: Integrated Survey Techniques for the Morphological Transformation Analysis

San Pietro di Deca in Torrenova: Integrated Survey Techniques for the Morphological Transformation Analysis

Manuela Bassetta, Francesca Fatta, Andrea Manti
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0675-1.ch011
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In this chapter San Pietro di Deca represented an opportunity for scientific knowledge process experimentation applied to a small building with a great past, an unknown monument standing in north west of Sicily that recently has been studied by a team of Austrian archeologists. The first scientific survey carried out by the authors by means of the latest technology as well as all the stages of the research are presented: the historical research, the laser scanner survey, the critical analysis leading to the interpretation of the architecture's masonry structures, and an accurate analytical representation of the transformation processes experienced by the structure from its origin until today. The evaluation of the survey and its comparison with similar Byzantine Sicilian buildings were major steps confirming the hypotheses inferred on the morphological evolution of the structure.
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In Italy the role that the cultural heritage must play in the next future is the subject of an increasingly intense subject. The issue of the architectural and archeological heritage is high on the cultural and political agenda and the Italian observatory concerned plays a key role deeply rooted into three adjoining historical grounds: the very high density of the in-situ heritage, the close relation between the latter and its landscape.

Nevertheless one more ground exists, not less important, that is related to the so-called Italian model of heritage culture and conservation stemming from the presence of a lot of little known architectural and archeological settlements scattered all over the peninsula1.

Retracing a historical memory is like remembering. Remembering and telling starting from an event, a date, a turning point in the history of a city and its community. The importance of constructing and, even more, reconstructing the past of a place generates a story, set in physical and mental spaces housing and mirroring a community.

Over the last twenty years the diffusion and development of digital techniques have contributed to this kind of story through the definition of some scenarios considered unimaginable until today.

The multimedia (K.T.) representation stimulated the applications to very different interacting and overlapping fields of knowledge (K.T.). Particularly, it has become an increasingly useful tool for a wide variety of possibilities concerning the knowledge, fruition, and promotion of the historical and cultural heritage. Therefore, the reconstruction of the memory is not a mere focused-inward process as it is rather the starting point for a new multidisciplinary approach.

The experience accrued through the different stages made it possible to highlight the main issues involved: on one hand, the identification of the conceptual, visual, metric, and materic aspects of an architectural structure and on the other hand the results visualization through a 3D interactive model.

In this chapter some results of a study carried out by some archeologists, compared with a high-definition survey for the interpretation and analysis of a whole structure. The assessment of the architecture surveyed in the perspective of its very important historical background and landscape highlighted the close relationship between the ground morphology, the presence of a river and the surrounding settlements.

Nevertheless, on a greater scale it was possible to find out how the association with the near eastern culture was important to identify the typological and morphological characteristics of some religious buildings scattered all over southern Sicily. Moreover, it was clear that as far as architecture and urban planning are concerned, the word Mediterraneo means, once more, stratification and reuse of buildings with their functions and significance. (see Figure 1)

Figure 1.

San Pietro di Deca in Torrenova, the octagonal building



Between the 18th and the 19th century Hittorff, Zant, Viollet Le Duc, and Du Fourny, in respect to southern Italy and Sicily in particular, dedicated themselves to the Italian treasures, showing their documentary interest in an incommensurable monumental patrimony still to be discovered. Nonetheless, while cultivating that interest, those scholars got into a precise professional and pedagogic habit: observing, studying, representing through drawings in order to didactically visualize the design process embodied by the stone architecture itself. Survey is the representation of the architecture’s essence so that the observer can grasp it correctly interpreting the shape, the use and the layout is the explication by the surveyor of the relationship between himself and the art work as cultural work taking into account its historical setting and value perception context (De Simone, 1985).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Morphological Analysis: The study of the architectural morphology deals with the investigation of, training and transformation of his geometric structures and configuration, namely the development of this architecture has had over time. Morphological analysis seeks to understand the underlying structure of an ancient architecture, by examining the patterns of the elements that compose it, as part of the process of their development. Morphological analysis is the study of the main elements underlying the apparent chaos.

Knowledge Integration: Is the process of synthesizing multiple knowledge models (or representations) into a common model (representation). Compared to information integration, which involves merging information having different schemas and representation models, knowledge integration focuses more on synthesizing the understanding of a given subject from different perspectives.

Point-Cloud: A point cloud is a set of data points in some coordinate system. In a three-dimensional coordinate system, these points are usually defined by X, Y, and Z coordinates, and often are intended to represent the external surface of an object. Point clouds may be created by 3D laser scanners. These devices measure a large number of points on an object's surface, and often output a point cloud as a data file. The point cloud represents the set of points that the device has measured. As the result of a 3D scanning process point clouds are used for many purposes, including to create 3D CAD models for manufactured parts, metrology/quality inspection, and a multitude of visualization, animation, rendering and mass customization applications. The point clouds are also employed in order to generate 3D model of urban environment. A survey carried out with the point clouds can give very accurate results on the architecture analyzed.

Cultural Heritage Tourism: The Cultural Heritage Tourism (or just heritage tourism) is a branch of tourism oriented towards the cultural heritage of the location where tourism is occurring. The National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States defines heritage tourism as “traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past” and “heritage tourism can include cultural, historic and natural resources.”

Photo Modeling: Is a methodology of non-contact survey that refers exclusively to the use of photographs to conduct the three-dimensional reconstruction of real objects. It is a work ambiance, which provides the possibility of three-dimensional re-creation of buildings by globally and coherently integrating the stages of surveying, modeling and representation. This is achieved by extracting directly from photographs all the information necessary in each of these stages: coordinates, distances, characteristic points for the two dimensional restitution of planes and perspectives; apices and profiles for three dimensional reconstructing of elements; textures for visually enriching created volumes. The development of a three-dimensional model passes through 3 closely related phases: acquisition of the spatial coordinates (the points present on an image are associated with homologous points present on different images of the same scene, returning the scene within a single spatial reference), three-dimensional reconstruction of the geometry, restitution of visual appearance (the geometric nature of the scene is enhanced by the attributes that allow to describe aspects of the surface: the 3D model is associated with the texture acquired at the time of the shooting).

Photo-Plan: Plan or surface constructed with a set of photos. For the survey on low cost can sometimes be a very useful practice. if the technique of taking photos is correct, the results achieved are very precise. In the 1960s and 1970s, the multidisciplinary approach was successfully employed in the UK by architects, engineers, and quantity surveyors working together on major public-sector construction projects and, together with planners, sociologists, geographers, and economists, on overseas regional and urban planning projects. In Italy the study and restoration of architectural heritage is based on this method.

Laser Scanning Survey: Is a technology that is revealing more and more the importance of complex objects and in particular for the documentation of cultural and environmental heritage. The high amount of data acquired in a short time you can run the relief geometric object with a remarkable level of detail and completeness. The result of one scanning is a very numerous set of points (called “point cloud”) distributed on the object to be detected, depending on the degree of detail that you want to achieve. The aim is to create a three-dimensional digital model as close as possible to the reality of the scanned object, to conduct design studies and / or restoration and conservation.

Multimedia: Refers to content that uses a combination of different content forms. Multimedia includes a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video, or interactive content forms. Multimedia can be recorded and played, displayed, dynamic, interacted with or accessed by information content processing devices, such as computerized and electronic devices, but it can also be part of a live performance. Multimedia devices are electronic media devices used to store and experience multimedia content. Multimedia is distinguished from mixed media in fine art; by including audio, for example, it has a broader scope. The term “rich media” is synonymous for interactive multimedia. Hypermedia scales up the amount of media content in multimedia application. In the field of cultural heritage, multimedia displays complex transformation that architecture has undergone during his life.

Digital Modeling: The purpose of digital modeling and fabrication is to allow designers to create physical models that can be used to test the success of a design. Digital modeling and fabrication's potential uses span a variety of industries, from architecture to design. The digital model applied to cultural heritage permits: a) to create virtual models of architecture, referring to previous periods; b) or you can create models aimed at the documentation, restoration or preservation.

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