This presentation is part of the 2017 3D Digital Documentation Summit.

Activating Data

The genesis of the conservation movement may be found in William Morris’ ‘Manifesto’ for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in which restoration is equated with forgery, “a kind of forgery [that] was impossible, because knowledge failed the builders.” Today we have that knowledge in the constantly evolving tools of digital technology. Digital documentation, in particular, offers us previously inaccessible knowledge of our heritage sites. To date, this data acquisition and processing in heritage sites serve the purposes of recording building geometry, visual appearance, elemental information for structure and materials and even thermographic change. These acquisitive and archival methods lead to “as is” snapshots in time, static information that is powerful as a database of heritage knowledge. They allow for ‘restoration’ or even recreation of built heritage destroyed, for example, by war. (1) There is, however, yet-to-be realized potential to use this knowledge actively, as a tool of change.

The post-professional MA in Adaptive Reuse program of the Department of Interior Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design focuses specifically on the reuse of existing structures. In spring 2017, through the collaboration and sponsorship of the van Beuren Charitable Foundation and the Newport Restoration Foundation, graduate students of this program will undertake to ‘project change’, literally and figuratively, onto Easton’s Point, an 18th century neighborhood along the western shoreline of Aquidneck Island. The project will address Bridge Street in the Point Neighborhood and extend the work begun in the Keeping 74 Bridge Street Above Water project of our cosponsor Newport Restoration Foundation. With a focus on issues of preservation in historic neighborhoods that are seriously threatened by rising sea water levels, the students will conduct their investigation through the use of new data acquisition technology, together with state of the art visualization and processing technology such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). Our objective in using these digital tools with virtual building models (that include the processing of other historical, scientific projections and intervention design data sources such as written, recorded historical records) is to engage a general public – at times skeptical and inured to the dangers of climate change for waterfront heritage.

Through AR and VR tools, the potential of 3D documentation will be expanded. These tools will allow for the creation of an immersive and interactive built environment that enables the public to visualize, in situ and with their mobile device, the physical effects of rising sea levels on a threatened area of Easton’s Point. Further, through the coexistence of spatial components, physical and virtual in AR and VR, the user will experience a neighborhood transformed in the future through proposed virtual design interventions to combat such issues. Dynamic visualization will activate the products of data processing and documentation as action; action that expands the narrative, visual, interactive and spatial potential of historic environments so as to educate and prepare the public for the changing face of heritage.

1 As in the Million Image Database collaboration between the Institute of Digital Archaeology, UNESCO, Oxford University, Harvard University and others.

Speaker Bio

Markus Berger
Associate Professor of the Department of Interior Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design received his Diplomingenieur für Architektur from the Technische Universität Wien and the Universität Innsbruck. Registered as an architect (SBA) in the Netherlands, he is principal of the Providence based art|design studio InsideOut Design and a project architect for UNSTUDIO in Amsterdam. Berger co-found Int|AR, the Journal on Interventions and Adaptive Reuse. His publications include the essays: “Change, Preservation and Adaptive Reuse”, “(In)convertibility and Memory”, “Constructing Change; Developing a theory for Adaptive Reuse”; “Left over spaces: Rediscovering Qualities for Interior Architecture” and the forthcoming article, “Death of the Architect: Appropriation and Interior Architecture.”

Michael Grugl
a faculty member of the Department of Interior Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design received a MArch from Technical University Vienna. He heads Sixtus Partners, an architecture firm in Linz, Austria. He is a former member of Architekturwerkstatt Freistadt, a group emphasizing adaptive reuse of historical buildings. He is co-creator of the award winning, Pixel Hotel, a built and operational urban intervention for Linz09. In 2012 he co-developed the Monolith, a prototype solar powered thermodynamic system for domestic heating and hot water provision.

Liliane Wong
Professor and Chair of the Department of Interior Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design received her BA in Mathematics from Vassar College and her MArch from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She co-found Int|AR, the Journal on Design Interventions & Adaptive Reuse that promotes creative and academic explorations of sustainable environments through exemplary works of reuse. A long time volunteer at soup kitchens, her teaching emphasizes the importance of public engagement in architecture and design. She is the author of Adaptive Reuse_Extending the Lives of Buildings, a contributing author of Designing Interior Architecture and Flexible Composite Materials in Architecture, Construction and Interiors and the co-author of Libraries – A Design Manual, all published by Birkhäuser.

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