The information model for preservation of historical parks and gardens. Advantages in terms of maintenance, conservation or enhancement.
Historical parks and gardens play an important role as open museums in preserving heritage items. Managing both ordinary and extraordinary aspects of these sites implies the same degree of complexity as for managing architectural heritage.
In this article we’ll be taking a look at some of the advantages of BIM processes applied to the management of a historical park. From cataloguing existing tree essences to analyzing the state of conservation of fountains, and arranging virtual tours and planning maintenance operations over time.
We’ll start off from a practical case study: the information model digitisation and management of Villa d’Este gardens in Tivoli, near Rome, a masterpiece of Italian garden architecture and listed in the UNESCO World Heritage.
How to create a 3D model for managing a historical park
In order to start a BIM process and the management of the historical park, we first need to create a precise 3D digital model.
A BIM workflow typically starts with a geometric survey of the de-facto situation in order to build a 3D model of the park in all its details. In this case, the survey was carried out by combining traditional methods with more advanced techniques implying the use of drones and laser scanners. The obtained survey data was then used to create the model with Edificius, the BIM software for architectural design. In fact, with Edificius, you can produce the BIM model using the “LAND” environment combined with the “HBIM” environment commands.
As you’ll see, the Villa d’Este gardens feature both naturalistic and architectural elements: fountains, flowerbeds, sloping lawns, grottoes and waterfalls with attractive shapes that influenced the development and design of baroque gardens all over Europe for their elegance and style.
The Edificius “LAND” environment, automatically adapts its user interface by enabling specific tools for terrain modelling including contour lines and contour plans or by inserting watercourses, vegetation, flowerbeds, etc.
With the HBIM environment commands, we can then recreate the architectural elements present in the park, or import particularly complex elements as point clouds, or by simply using the integration tools with other third party solid modelling software such as:
Alternatively, you can import externally modelled objects or objects downloaded from the web in a wide range of formats directly into the Edificius User Library under the 3D Models category (.3DS, .SKP, .OBJ, etc.).
With a single software you can address complex modelling workflows such as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Building an information system for a historic park
The BIM model created with Edificius is not a simple graphic representation for 3D visualisation, but a system of parametric objects that can contain an infinite amount of information, data and characteristics that are constantly updated and essential for managing the maintenance, conservation and enhancement of the asset.
In fact, by clicking on any object in the model you can access to its geometric data, material characteristics, material layers analyses, information on the construction system, historical data, photographs, technical data sheets, etc.
With the development of HBIM (Historic or Heritage BIM), it is finally possible to apply all BIM processes to historically and artistically significant assets. All the advantages of the BIM methodology are automatically transferred to the management of the existing architectural heritage, offering numerous opportunities for the administration, maintenance and conservation of the asset.
Having obtained a digital model allows you to optimally manage certain operations like:
- monitoring the state of decay area, by comparing data entered into the digital model with the same data analysed in real time
- planning of interventions over time
- protecting the information collected, which is stored in the Cloud, implemented and updated over time
- the simulation of catastrophic events
- cataloguing of movable and immovable assets
- transferability of the asset in all its details, even in the event of material loss, collapse, degradation, etc
- digital reconstruction of any missing parts
- virtual tours and asset awareness, including of parts that are not accessible or open to the public
- routine operations, such as maintenance, visits, anti-intrusion systems, staffing, cataloguing of items, etc.
- interoperability between the actors involved in the process.
The model, therefore, represents a real information system: a container of information and a management tool for the asset and all its elements, from statues, to the trees, pieces of furniture, etc.
How to manage the BIM model of a historical park? How to associate the information with the 3D model? Is there a simple, convenient and intuitive software?
Keep reading this article to find out.
usBIM: the information model management tool
To manage the BIM model of the historic gardens of Villa d’Este it was used an all-in-one and free tool: usBIM, the integrated system developed by ACCA software to manage the digitization of buildings and infrastructures.
usBIM is a cloud-based platform where to upload, view and manage the 3D models generated with any BIM authoring (Edificius, Revit, Archicad, etc.) together with data and documents associated with them, also in collaboration with all the users involved in the project.
Let’s now take a closer look at how usBIM works.
First of all, I created a folder structure for storing the collected documentation and work files on the usBIM Cloud (point clouds, 3D models, DWGs of the area, etc.), accessible from any device, and anywhere.
Properly structuring the folders allows you to have a Cloud archive with your data, which can also be consulted from a browser using any device, so as to allow you working and managing technical and organisational issues even from remote and in a collaborative way.
Next, the 3D model of the park together with all the files and information collected were uploaded to the platform and the project was shared with all the team members involved in the process. The usBIM Cloud environment becomes in fact a place for data sharing and collaboration between all the figures involved in the project.
I will now briefly explain some of the operations you can carry out with usBIM to manage a historical park.
3D models Viewing
One of the simplest but at the same time most important operation in a BIM process is the visualisation of 3D models online. Basically, with usBIM.browser (one of the free applications integrated in the usBIM system) you can view and manage every single model created with any BIM authoring software and simultaneously upload several IFC files, create a model merge and obtain the integration of the entire BIM digital model.
In summary, with usBIM.browser you can:
- view and manage all data, documents and models directly online
- browse the 3D model online with any device
- collaborate with connected users on a project in real time
- obtain rendered views with other applications (such as usBIM.render and usBIM.reality) and immersive model experiences
- manage IFC models online (federation, #TagBIM, linking and geo-referencing)
- access graphical or descriptive drawings, construction details, technical specifications, requirements, etc
In this way, everyone can view the 3D model of the park and attach information and files to it to create a complete and up-to-date information model.
Federation of models
If the 3D model, like in our example, includes a fairly large area that has been modelled “in parts” and by different technicians, you can obtain a single complete model by merging the various pieces, even if they have been generated with different software.
In practice, you can display several IFC documents in a single view, using model federation features.
usBIM suggests a tree structure of federated IFC models to manage different viewing, shifting, rotating and scaling options.
You can also attach both documents loaded in the platform and external links to the federated model objects, so that the model becomes the information geo-referencing within the platform.
Cataloguing tree species
One of the aspects to be dealt with during the management of a historic park or garden is the cataloguing of tree species. In this case study, during the inspection an extensive photographic survey was carried out to report the presence and state of conservation of all the vegetative species. I then associated each object in the model with photos and technical data sheets for each plant, in order to obtain a precise list of the trees present and the specific needs of each species (pruning times and methods, possible need for fertilisation, irrigation, etc.). This can be useful both for cataloguing all the existing tree species in the park but also for organising maintenance of green areas, planting of new trees, etc.
For example, those who have to deal with the seasonal pruning of vegetation can access the information sheets associated with each species and plan, on the basis of the information obtained, the most appropriate times and methods for carrying out the work.
Park Thematic map and GIS (Geographical Information System)
With usBIM you can place the digital model of the asset in its real spatial context.
You can access a free application (usBIM.gis) to analyse indicators and spatial connections that affect the asset operations throughout its entire life cycle, assess certain phenomena in the area, create thematic maps with routes, monuments, attractions, benches area and refreshment points, entrances, exits, etc. You can import maps in .GeoJSON format, create maps linked to BIM models and create thematic maps.
You can import maps in .GeoJSON format, create maps linked to BIM models, insert customised properties and graphic notations (lines, rectangles, polygons and markers), link documents from the Cloud platform and collaborate with several people in real time on the same document.
In practice, you create a real GIS system that can be useful to carry out analysis on the territory but also to provide asset information to the users (for example to visitors who do not know how to reach the nearest place or car park, or to those who have to move to visit a fountain or any other attraction inside the park).
Maintenance and restoration works
Historical assets, whether parks, gardens, villas or palaces, always require planning for restoration or even simple maintenance works.
With the integrated usBIM system you have many free applications available to:
- plan maintenance work
- take care of facility management aspects
- manage the project and supervision of restoration works
- simplify collaboration and communication between designers, companies, suppliers, etc.
- ensure safe exchange of information
- view project drawings and models
- archive all project documentation
- review the project interventions over time
- monitor the asset state of conservation.
Managing the lighting system in a historical park
With usBIM you can follow up any asset practical and management aspect, such as the lighting system.
For example, you can:
- catalogue all lighting points
- view them in the 3D model
- manage the lights automatic switching on and off times
- federate the architectural model with the 3D model of the electrical installation in order to know the precise positioning of corrugated, light points, alarm systems, etc
- report any faults and malfunctions
- report the need to replace light sources
- estimate operating and maintenance costs, etc.
With usBIM, you can even view visualizzare BIM models in real time and browse through the project in first person with virtual reality (VRi): navigate in detail IFC, EDF, RVT or SKP models that have been shared on the platform by simply using your browser.
Thanks to the navigation functions in Real-Time Rendering, you will be able to see all the 3D models complete with furniture and materials in an extraordinarily realistic way and immediately check the effectiveness of the models and if any conflicts in a highly advanced mode.
These are just some of the many activities you can manage with the integrated usBIM system.