BIM for Heritage: the restoration of Iglesia de Santiago de Peñalba in Spain

BIM for Heritage: the restoration of Iglesia de Santiago de Peñalba in Spain

In the last few years BIM applications are increasingly being used in the restoration field: BIM for Heritage and the case study of a Church renovation in Castilla y León

The church of  Santiago de Peñalba in the Spanish region of Castilla y León is an important example of 10th century Mozarabic-Hispanic architecture that has been declared National Historic-Artistic Monument since 1931.

The building forms a Latin cross consisting of six elements of prismatic shape inlaid in rectangular-shaped sections. The structure is characterized by a single nave and two opposed apses.

BIM for Heritage: Iglesia de Santiago de Peñalba restoration in Spain_usBIMplatform

The church area view


The church’s decoration is a mixture of elements of different styles and influences, sculptures and well preserved original frescoes.

The use of BIM in the restoration project

BIM for heritage assets (the terms Heritage BIM, HBIM or Historic Building Information Modelling can be used interchangeably) is a relatively new field of academic research. Typically, it relies on multi-disciplinary collaboration where different types of information and data, that are crucial for future intervention decisions, are collected from:

  • graphic surveys
  • photographic surveys
  • decorations surveys
  • historical / artistic studies
  • degradation surveys / analysis
BIM for Heritage: Iglesia de Santiago de Peñalba restoration in Spain_usBIMplatform

Photogrammetric survey of the building facades


The Conservation Architects must consider certain aspects to prolong the life and preserve the integrity of architectural character in terms of:

  • knowledge
  • conservation/preservation
  • asset management
  • promotion/enhancement

The aim of the Dirección General de Patrimonio Cultural, in this specific renovation case, was to manage restoration works through the use of a specialized BIM platform.

BIM for Heritage: Iglesia de Santiago de Peñalba restoration in Spain

BIM model with the layout of the various level of details

It is well known that digital information contained in the BIM platform increases the level of knowledge of the building, thus allowing to optimize the subsequent phases of restoration and site management.

Project development

The project consists in creating a BIM model, that is adapted to the historic building’s peculiarities, and sharing it on the BIM platform according to different development phases:

  1. 3D model production,of both interiors and external building elements starting from the existing graphic documentation. This consists of a three-dimensional photogrammetric survey with a very high level of detail to represent every single construction / decorative element. The model is then divided into distinct geometric elements based on two main aspects: element characteristics and the stratigraphic units of surfaces.
  2. re-elaboration and organization of already existing information possessed by the Dirección General de Patrimonio Cultural of the Junta de Castilla y León (regional government of the region)
  3. optimization of all information and uploading to the BIM platform thanks to authoring levels, which are configured with specific information to be improved.
BIM for Heritage: Iglesia de Santiago de Peñalba restoration in Spain

Peñalba de Santiago Church

Basically, the information to be improved are those relating to:

  • external walls and decorations appraisal
  • internal archaeological analysis
  • historical and artistic documentary research
  • level of degradation studies on wall and decorations parameters
  • other recent restoration interventions

Benefits of using BIM

This project helped to develop a structured BIM model that follows the building evolution sequence. In this way, each information obtained could be combined directly with the respective historical phase.

This attention to data organization is in line with the symmetry of this historical architecture and allows architects to manage both current and future interventions in a more rational and effective way.

The creation of a 3D model with such a high level of detail (each element is precisely catalogued and grouped according to specific characteristics) will enable the project technical experts to find the data catalogued in an extremely simple and immediate manner in the future.

For this reason, future conservation, restoration and works management are streamlined thanks to the possibility for all stakeholders to access a single data shared environment.

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