The Polytecnico di Milano has, for a number of years, been running a summer school dedicated to the collection, modelling and understanding of digital heritage. Located in Ghesc for its first iterations, and concerning the use of digital tools (laser scanning, photogrammetry, photography) to collect and analyse the built heritage, this year the School moved to the Sacred Calvary Mount, which is the northernmost of the nine Sacri Monte.
The Politecnico di Milano is one of the world’s leading Universities, in terms of both research and teaching. Indeed, their courses in Architecture are consistently rated as being within the world’s top ten. Of particular importance to the summer school is the fact that it is organised and led by the 3D Survey Group (chaired by Professors Achille and Fassi), which is certainly a world leader in terms of digital survey techniques. Needless to say, I felt honoured to be invited!
I was able to attend the School for three days, during which time I learned a huge amount. A lecture and workshop from Dr Sonia Pistidda on the topic of architectural technical conservation very much brought me back to my days in the RGU Masonry Conservation Research Group, and here insights with regards to the need to collect and understand meta data associated with scan information added layers of complexity and meaning to the work being undertaken by the participants.
I was also able to participate in hands on workshops from Leica Geosystems, who demonstrated the new RTC360. The RTC represents real advances in terms of real-time registration, as well as speed of setup and scanning. For example, there is no longer a need to level the scanner manually, and the scanner itself uses an advanced visually driven method to relationally locate scans, and massively speed up registration.
I was also able to present from the work undertaken by our group at RGU, including from studies undertaken with Dr Marianthi Leon and Dr Elizabeth Tait. Two things which struck me were that our work has tended towards the application of technology within the social sciences (as opposed to technical advancement, per se), and that Scottish people find it difficult to appear cool in humid conditions.
Students participating in the summer school have been able to gain hugely in terms of their skills regarding the use of leading software (including Agisoft Photoscan and Leica Cyclone) and hardware (both scanning and digital photography). The opportunities afforded by the Sacri Monti to explore the recording of artefacts, buildings and (pilgrimage) routes are quite stunning.
Richard Laing, August 2018