One of the most rewarding parts of working on laser scanning projects is the ability to capture sites as they are, accurately without disturbing them. For us, most of the time that means the low impact on the movement for the people who live or work in the buildings we are scanning. Sometimes though, the non-invasive benefits of laser scanning are a prerequisite to measuring what exists. These are the type of projects we live for. 

If you are interested in historic spaces, you have probably run into one you cannot get close to. Buildings become unstable and unsafe to approach. Often you cannot visit, let alone approach a decayed space of historical significance. These spaces are unsafe for both tourists as well as technicians interested in performing restoration work. Often, there may not even be a budget for restoration, so these places of interest remain abandoned for years due to the high costs and risks involved in even getting close to photographing or documenting them.

Recently, our laser scanning team was called on to scan the “Hornos de Cal Serrano” in Córdoba, Argentina. Built in 1887, for a lime factory called THEA, the Kilns provided raw material to local industry for years. The strategic location on the banks of the train tracks allowed the distribution of their product throughout the region. At one point, the company employed over a quarter of the local population, thus the kiln and gates effectively served as a major city entrance.

With the passage of time, the quicklime produced was replaced by hydrated lime and the Kilns became obsolete. The factory was closed and the place remained abandoned for many years. In 1985, Los Hornos was declared of provincial interest by the Secretary of Education and Culture of the Government for the Province of Córdoba.

Today, conservation of the site is very important as a symbol and reflection of the memory of the neighborhood and the country. Recently when local developers expressed interest in developing close to the site, there was concern over potential damage to the structure. Faced with this, the Government of Córdoba instituted a plan to protect this important local historical heritage. It was at this point, we were brought in.

Our reality capture team scanned the site in less than 4 hours with laser scanners which offer a non-destructive, non-invasive way to measure an existing site. Due to the non-contact nature of the devices used, there was minimal risk of modifying or damaging the formerly robust structures which have now decayed. Following the creation of the raw point cloud data, our modeling team created a 3D Revit model of the site for posterity.

Even with all conservation measures taken, it’s impossible to predict what comes next. The best you can do is be prepared. Nature alone is one reason our historical structures of today should be documented to the best of our abilities. The ability to create low-cost digital snapshots is at our fingertips. Can you imagine the implications today if any ancient civilization had been able to capture their structures? I don’t know about you, but I’d pay handsomely to visit the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or visit Ancient Rome as it existed. Let’s give that gift to those who come next, let’s make a safe bet on HBIM.

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