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Constructing The Ideal Form Vitruvian Temple

In the 1st century CE, Roman writer, architect and engineer Vitruvius authored the treaties De Architectura (also known as The Ten Books of Architecture). Within its pages are contained specific formulae for building temples based on the guiding principles of firmitas, utilitas, venustas – strength, utility and beauty. Rediscovered in 1414 by Bracciolini, the work became a major influence on the architecture of the renaissance, baroque, neoclassical and beyond.

The forms described, and the methods by which they are constructed as outlined by Vitruvius, have fascinated architects, archaeologists and illustrators for centauries. This implementation attempts to realise the Vitruvian principles though a digital medium, utilising VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) and JavaScript while attempting to resolve some of Vitruvius’ omissions into more complete formulae thorough logical progression and self reference without studying real world exemplar. It allows the participant to pose the questions “what if?” and “can I?” core to exploring the temple forms and allows the participant to see in real time the effect that their choices have on the structure as a whole .

In addition to the standard functionality of the VRML browser the composition utilises an on-screen HUD (head up display). The HUD allows the participant to directly change the form of the temple in real-time within the rules set forth by Vitruvius.

Each of the active variable bars in the HUD (Temple, Stereobate, Column, Cella, Door and Entablature) can be expanded with a mouse click presenting the relevant settings that can be manipulated within the world. The variable bars and temple components are colour coded for ease of reference.

The “Display” variable bar allows the participant to change lighting schemes, switch between scenic and schematic views and to place a meter square grid within the environment.

View The Ideal Form Vitruvian Temple implementation from CCH or Datascape.org. Download source code for the implementation is also available as vitruviantemples.zip

Visulising the Odeon of Agrippa, Athens, Greece

3d modelling research based work on the Odeion of Agrippa has been carried out by Martin Blazeby as ongoing research for King's Visualisation Lab.

The Odeion was constructed c. 15 BC and stood prominently in the centre of Athens. The physical structure is largely unknown to us as very little survives to this day. However, a wide range of archaeological data comprising of site reports, plans and existing artefacts have permitted a virtual reconstruction of its several phases. A cognitive method of modelling using colour coded layers has been utilised to distinguish between existing structure, fragmentary evidence and hypothetical architectural probability.

As part of emerging ‘paradata’ principles the methodology and modelling process was recorded showing intellectual transparency as proof of scholarship. The resultant 3d visualisations and documentation by way of ‘paradata’ encompasses both architectural and archaeological research outcomes.

Publication forthcoming


The Skenographia Project

Part of a wider project examining several theatrically-inflected Roman frescoes from the Bay of Naples region and the city of Rome using digital visualisation methods to assess their value as sources for the history of Roman theatre, and to explore the range of roles and meanings that they may have encompassed for Roman viewers. Due to the highly interpretive nature of the project the need for recording paradata and intellectual transparency are highly desirable in order to fully understand and explain the diffences between what we "see" in the frescos and what they may physically depict. As part of the Making Space Project a number of of the studies were put through the paradata process (including some retrospectively to ascertain if paradata can be added "post production"), the resulting metric and understanding of process for these trials were used in the construction of The London Charter.

Project information including example paradata records for six of the individual studies can be found at the project website.


Other Implementations of Project Recommendations

King's College London is undertaking an iterative testing and implementation of The London Charter in the Applied Visualisation module of the MA/MSc in Digital Culture and Technology.

THEATRON 3 is a multi-partner Eduserv funded project repurposing and creating research and visulisations of iconic theatres from Europe for massive multi user online platforms. The project is using core paradata concepts to communicate information in collaborative building projects and in preparation of educational resources.

Theatre at Pompeii is an on going three season project initially funded by the British Academy. Working collaboratively a joint team from King's Visulisation Lab and Melbourne University, Australia are undertaking an investigation of the Odeon and Large Theatre at Pompeii comparing and contrasting traditional and digital visulisation techniques.


Partners in The London Charter Initiative, Further Related Research.

Graeme Earl, School of Archaeology, University of Southampton
London Charter implementation tested in undergraduate modules and postgraduate research in archaeology.

Chris Baugh, School of Performance & Cultural Industries, University of Leeds
Extensive implementation of the London Charter by Rachel Hann, PhD Student.

Daniel Pletinckx, Director of New Technologies, EPOCH NoE
"Common Infrastructure Tool: Interpretation Management" Document circulated to the London Charter Advisory Board; revised version shortly to be published to the London Charter website.

Sorin Hermon, VAST Lab, PIN, University of Florence
"Proposed specification for a tool to ensure standards, scientific reliability in the 3D visualization of tangible cultural heritage.