Virtual Juxtapositioning of Architecture from the Scottish Diaspora: An Application of Building Information, Preservation and Modelling Technology

By Richard Laing and Jonathan Robert Scott.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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During the latter part of the 18th century, a large number of Scottish emigrants settled in areas located on the east coast of Canada. Among their number were individuals skilled in stonemasonry who went on to design and construct significant stone houses, with specific examples still surviving in the town of Pictou. During the early part of the 19th century, those settlers went on to construct still intact stone buildings, many of which drew directly on knowledge and experience of architecture in Scotland. Of particular interest to this paper is a specific example of a granite townhouse built in Halifax by a successful businessman and trader who originally came from Aberdeen in Scotland. The research reported in this paper deals specifically with the visualisation of both physical (architectural) and socio-historical data. It was possible during a field visit to Halifax to collect detailed information regarding the social history of the case study property. This included gaining access to detailed measured drawings of the front elevation in addition to evidence of key dates and the likely source of construction material. What is also illustrated in the paper is the distinct and obvious aesthetic connections between the design of the case study building in Halifax and contemporary architecture located in Aberdeen itself. The authors undertook a detailed high definition survey of a similar granite urban square in Aberdeen that was constructed at almost exactly the same date as the Nova Scotian townhouse. By utilising the drawn survey data (from Halifax) and the high definition scan data (Aberdeen), it has been possible to juxtapose otherwise remotely located properties to directly compare architectural scale, detail and proportion. Associated with that study is a timeline analysis which visually presents the development of both sites, and when appropriate, provides hyperlinks to externally available data. The manner in which we understand and value heritage within the constructed environment is often affected by the depth of our knowledge of what that heritage may represent. Ultimately, the paper argues that an understanding of such case studies is significantly aided through the application of electronic visualisation techniques.

Keywords: Scanning, Modelling Technologies, Preservation, Surveying

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.058MB).

Prof. Richard Laing

Professor, The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK

Since 1999, Richard Laing has led a number of research commissions including Streetscapes (Scottish Enterprise), Greenspace (ECFP5, Scottish lead) and Urban Connections (Aberdeen City Growth). These projects provided techniques for assessing human responses to virtual built environments. In addition, he has recently led research and development projects for the Department of Health and the ESF, as well as participating as a co-investigator on work supported by the ESRC. He has extensive experience of research concerning holistic value assessment in the built environment, including studies on building design evaluation, the use of computer games technology in architectural design, building conservation and innovative housing. His research concerning design evaluation has made a significant and innovative use of 3D virtual models to present various designs and environmental scenarios. Recent papers have appeared in leading journals including Environment and Planning B and Design Studies. Richard is currently a professor of built environment visualisation at RGU in Aberdeen.

Dr Jonathan Robert Scott

Lecturer, The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and Built Environment, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK

After completing his PhD in 2005, Jonathan Scott has researched on various topics and areas, which has led to his current focus on the conservation of built heritage using photogrammetry and laser scanning. Jonathan currently is the course leader for Architectural Technology at The Robert Gordon University.