The SIArch-Univaq: An Architectural Information System for Cultural Heritage

The SIArch-Univaq: An Architectural Information System for Cultural Heritage

Romolo Continenza, Ilaria Trizio
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8379-2.ch010
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SIArch-Univaq is a knowledge-based instrument for the cataloging of historical architectural heritage, created to provide a powerful cognitive tool to all operators interested in studies and conservation. The principle characteristic of this architectural Information System is its notable capacity of in-depth analysis, going down to the identification of all the constructive components with simplicity of consultation, activated by one or more three-dimensional models deliberately created. Conceived at the University of L'Aquila (Italy) it was developed in the framework of research financed with funds from the Ministry for University and Scientific Research made available for projects of relevant national interest (PRIN). This article describes its structure, characteristics and functionalities.
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The use of GIS technologies for cultural heritage dates back to the 90s, when the creation of the “Cultural Heritage Chart of Risk”1 was promoted with the purpose of creating an effective tool for national cultural heritage maintenance and restoration planning.

In time, the Chart was followed by many other similar applications provided by regional governments, ICCD2 and the CNR3. At a later stage the same technology was used to collect information about architectural works’ conservation as for the case of the tower of Pisa GIF (Cordaro 1999, Capponi 2001), the Aosta Roman theater (Salonia 2003) or the “medical record of the Santa Maria di Collemaggio Basilica (Bartolomucci 2004)4. The SIGEC project (Catalogue General Information System) developed by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage was aimed at standardizing cultural heritage cataloguing procedures.

In historic building restoration sector, several experiments were conducted on the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the SICAR (Restoration Site Documentation Information System) (Baracchini, 2007), or the “Restoration GIS” designed to collect microclimate data (Cacace, 2006).

The ARCHES (Heritage Inventory and Management Systems), developed by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and the World Monuments Fund (WMF) is considered to be one of the most recent and innovative systems adopted. This system has open source technologies and international cataloguing standards and is aimed at building a global system for cultural heritage documentation.

The adoption of a web-based system allows rapid knowledge dissemination in the scientific community. The system for archaeological protected sites management, so far adopted by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities, is also available for landscape, architecture and artwork documentation. Because of its features, this system has been widely internationally adopted.

Two-dimensional geographic substrates GIS procedures have provided satisfactory results with regard to the management of large amounts of data provided in various supports. Moreover, in order to use these procedures to obtain a more precise description of the architectural work it would be more effective to resort to three-dimensional procedures. In fact, a 3D model allows the user to identify precise spatial references to building elements that are linked with database records.

The SIArchUnivaq procedure illustrated in this chapter can be considered in the light of the previous considerations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Historic Building Information Modelling (HBIM): BIM researchers aim at extending the area of applicability of this technology in order to include historical heritage management and research.

Architectural Information Systems (ArchIS): 3D GIS dedicated to architecture with the aim of providing evidence of historical artifact, cross-checking alphanumeric and graphic information with 3D complex models.

Database (DB): A digital data archive containing categorized information. In the database, data are logically linked to allow information to be managed and organized efficiently. Databases are structured in a way that allows users to access, modify and delete information using dedicated software.

3D Digital Modeling: A process by which three-dimensional shapes are designed in the virtual space of a computer, using specialist software. 3D digital modeling is used for technical and scientific studies as well as for artistic and recreational purposes (e.g. industrial design, architectural design, civil engineering, industrial engineering, medical imaging, area studies, graphics, videogames, and applications used by the film industry).

Building Information Modeling (BIM): Digital technology becoming nowadays more and more established, often preferred to CAD (Computer Aided Design). This parametric software creates three-dimensional informative models of artifacts, allowing users to collect as much information as possible throughout the whole design procedure: the planning, the execution and the management.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS): A software application that allows spatial data stored in a database to be managed, analyzed and displayed. A GIS is a geographical database that integrates spatial and chart data, showing them graphically on maps. These systems are often used in geography and in urban, territorial and landscape management studies. They have recently been used in archaeology to aid site mapping, excavation management and forecast analysis.

3D GIS: A particular kind of GIS in which territorial data have not only X and Y coordinates for geographical location but also the Z coordinate to represent the altimetry. It is possible though, in specific cases, to contrive three-dimensional GISs presenting 3D graphic shapes, imported in GIS software, designed with specific 3D modeling software.

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