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Architecture of Identities and a 4D Research Lab

Architecture of Identities and a 4D Research Lab


Dr. P.S. Lulof

Members of the research group

prof.dr. A.F.W. Bosman
dr. P.G.F. Eversmann
dr. M. Israëls
prof.dr. B. Kempers
dr. P.S. Lulof
dr. M. Simons
prof.dr. V.V. Stissi
External Members:
M. Butzek (Florence)
M.E. Cohen (Research Design Systems RDS)
J. Hopkins (Boston)
W. Hupperetz (Allard Pierson Museum)
W. Loseries (Florence)
L. Opgenhaffen (Technical Staff)
K. Peterse (Pansa BV Bureau for Reconstructing Archistecture)
D. Pletinckx (Ename)
C. Rescigno (Napels)
I. Rowland (Rome)
M. Sepers (technical staff)
N. Winter (Santa Barbara)
K. Zollikofer (Rome/Bern)

Description of the research programme of the research group

Digital techniques and cultural heritage connect in an innovative way new and old within the humanities. ICT applications are a major research tool, serving scholars from various disciplines, in order to reconstruct a series of major monuments and sites within their successive phases of creation, function, renovation, and destruction. The research group envisages a chronologically ordered set of case studies. Archaic sanctuaries in Central Italy founded since the sixth century BC and afterwards re-built and extended during several centuries up until Republican times, Imperial period, and the Early Middle Ages. Notwithstanding the fragmentary condition of the buildings’ remains, these monuments are crucial sources of information on the constitution of elementary religious, political and social identities. Innovative and dynamic reconstructions with the help of 3D and virtual reality simulations offer great possibilities in studying these transformative processes and will be implemented in the research group. Architectural and archaeological data are fully available. Instead of being a sophisticated tool to visualize buildings and structures that no longer exist, 3D and dynamic reconstructions are now being applied as research tools, urging researchers to formulate new questions that are new in the specific research area.
Christianization can be studied with Christian centres in Rome, Florence and Siena, ecclesiastical buildings that still exist in a form that is profoundly different from its creation on top of older, pagan structures. Secondary literature, previous reconstructions and excavations provide a sufficient empirical basis for new digital reconstructions, based on the models developed for antiquity and the medieval-Renaissance casus. Theoretically, the research group extends from the e-humanities into the social sciences and is interdisciplinary. Some renovated monuments continued to attract ever new groups: pagan, catholic, protestant, muslim, and atheist from all over the world. Others ended in a cultural cul-de-sac. Systematic comparative and historical research will shed light on the questions why certain buildings continuously reached new social groups and knew to create new identities, even a global one, while others almost disappeared from memory or appealed exclusively to scholars.

Envisaged results

In general this programme will result in books, proceedings of conferences and peer-reviewed articles, articles in periodicals specialized in virtual reconstructions, digital reconstructions, development of new computational programs and Apps. Thematic exhibitions, expert meetings, workshops (in close collaborations with cultural institutions and museums in the Netherlands and Italy). Funding is sought for in programmatic research applications at NWO (Free Competition and Creative Industry), International research applications with several European academic partners (ERC, JPI).
Several of these will be developed within the range of the sub-projects described above.

Work plan and time schedule

So far, the programme consists of the following projects:
The Art of Reconstruction: The lost temple of Caprifico (FGW 2012-2013, Priority Heritage and digital Culture)
Biographies of Buildings: Virtual Futures for our Cultural Past (NIAS 2015, Research Group)

  • Archaeology of Architecture: The presentation and publication of Virtual 3D Reconstructions of Lost Monuments (Creative Industry NWO and FGW, Embedded Researcher 2014-2016)
  • The Troy Paradox (FGW 2012-2014 Priority Heritage and digital culture)
  • Virtual Museum Transnational Network (EU 7FP Network of Excellence 2011-2015)
  • The Reconstruction of Archaic sanctuaries in Central Italy (Rome, Satricum, and Cumae, 2015-2018)
  • The Kunstkamera in St. Peterburg. A virtual reconstruction of a 18th-century museum (2014-2015)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Churches in Italy. Siena Cathedral, S. Maria Novella in Florence, St. Peter’s Rome, St. John Lateran in Rome, Cathedral of Urbino (2013-2018)
  • Vatican Palace and the biblioteca segreta (2015-2018)
  • The civic centre of Amsterdam in the Golden Age. The Town-hall in transition and context (2015-2018)

The programme will initiate cooperation projects for the long-term, including several proposals. Individual projects, however, have a restricted time schedule. While each member of the group is individually engaged in specific projects (including exhibitions and publications) we will meet on a regular basis to share results and develop collective discursive projects and organize conferences or present ourselves as a group at international meetings.

Societal relevance

The digitized image of architectural heritage can be used to serve the modern audience through exhibitions, presentations at fixed installations, libraries, archives and digital publications, offering a valorization of this innovative science project. The relevance also derives from current public interest in virtual reality (VR) reconstructions of ancient and religious sites. The relevance of this project goes far beyond the visualization of ancient key monuments. The most important goal is to define virtual reconstruction as a research tool (to improve the understanding of the buildings and their role in society) and as a tool to structure and exchange knowledge within the research community but also towards the society through museums and other memory . This project has a wider societal importance as it materializes the link between the researcher and the public, in making the research understandable, visual and enjoyable. It also has a twofold economic importance as it optimizes on one hand the exchange and sustainability of the archaeological and architectural research and provides content to the creative industries on the other hand, that can be turned into a range of new products and services.