Japan’s First Digital 3D Model of a Registered Historic Building to Aid in Preservation of Museum

Categories: Architecture

Autodesk Helps Create Photo-Real Model of 90-Year Old Telephone Office in Shimonoseki to Serve as Management Tool and Innovative Public Educational Resource

One of the hottest trends in today’s urban planning and revitalization is “adaptive reuse”.  It’s all about finding new purposes for aging buildings and infrastructure.  The transformation of an old power station into the Tate Modern museum in the UK, or turning old bridges or elevated rail platforms into green spaces, like New York City’s High-Line and the 11th Street Bridge project in Washington D.C., are stellar examples.

1Shown here is a 3D model of the Shimonoseki Telegraph Office Telephone Branch building created in Autodesk ReCap Pro. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

A compelling example of adaptive reuse comes from the City of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan.  Recently Autodesk joined the City's special project team charged with leveraging a Building Information Modeling (BIM) process and the latest 3D modeling, reality capture and visualization technologies to create a remarkable – and a first for Japan – photo-realistic 3D model of a registered historic landmark structure.  Completed in 1924, the Shimonoseki Telegraph Office Telephone Branch building was transformed into the Tanaka Kinuyou Bunka Kan Museum in 2010 to exhibit photos, personal items and film making equipment owned by popular Japanese actress and influential film-maker Kinuyo Tanaka [1909-1977].  For the citizens of Shimonoseki the building is held in high regard as it reflects the history and culture of Taisho era with unique designs and decorations.

Japan faces a challenge when it comes to preserving, renovating and then reusing, operating and maintaining historic structures.  At present there are about 14,300 buildings designated and “Cultural Properties” in Japan.  Most of these structures pre-date World War II, and, as a result, often architectural drawings and plans have been lost.  Renovation projects need accurate information, and fortunately modern technologies such as laser scanning, photogrammetry and modeling software based on a BIM process can help save the day. 

Under the supervision of NTT Facilities, Autodesk and Topcon collaborated to laser scan the entire structure and create a stunning 3D model.  Together the team is working on a three-stage process:  

  • Laser scan the structure inside and out to create precise point clouds.  This now completed phase – one day to scan the exterior from 15 locations, and one and a half days to scan the interior from 50 locations – resulted in 45 million cloud points for the exterior, and 87 million interior points.   

2Shown here is the Topcon laser scanner used to capture the building's exterior and interior.  Image courtesy of Autodesk. 

  • Integrate a total of approximately 132 million cloud points into Autodesk software including Autodesk ReCap Pro and Autodesk Revit – the goal being a photorealistic model by December of this year.

1Shown here is a 3D model of the structure in Autodesk Revit Architecture. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

  • Then use Autodesk InfraWorks 360 to create a city-scale 3D model of Shimonoseki as it would have appeared when the building opened during the Taisho era.  This ambitious goal will be achieved by combining the Shimonoseki Telegraph Office Telephone Branch building model with topographic data of the surrounding Karato district, and scanned image data from other extant historic structures.  A preliminary city-scale model was previewed to the press recently in Japan to demonstrate the potential value of the final version slated for completion within the next few months.

Once this three-step process is completed, the goal is to make the final work available to the public in February 2015, with a special emphasis on reaching younger generations to inspire interest in their cultural heritage.