project description

The general objective of 3D-ICONS is to enhance the content base available to Europeana users through targeted 3D digitisation of European architectural and archaeological monuments and buildings which will be selected through their listing by UNESCO on its World Heritage (WH) list or by member states as being of exceptional and outstanding cultural importance. The project aims to complement the collections which are being made accessible to Europeana via CARARE, Europeana Local, Athena and other projects which have developed the content base for the archaeological and architectural heritage. In particular 3D-ICONS aims to complement the 3D content brought to Europeana via the CARARE project and to increase the critical mass of this engaging content.

It is also an important objective of the project to build on the results of previous EU projects most notably on CARARE for the aggregation services and guidelines on the publication of 3D for Europeana, and on 3D-COFORM for the 3D creation, management and visualization tools.

This project proposes to digitise a series of architectural and archaeological masterpieces of world and European cultural significance and provide 3D models and related digital content to Europeana, with the aim of contributing to the critical mass of highly engaging content available to users.
Public fascination with the architectural and archaeological heritage is well known, it is proven to be one of the main reasons for tourism according to the UN World Tourism Organisation. Historic buildings and archaeological monuments form a significant component Europe’s cultural heritage; they are the physical testimonies of European history and of the different events that led to the creation of the European landscape as we know it today.

People are becoming increasingly familiar with 3D content through films, TV and games. But the provision of high quality 3D cultural heritage content goes above the current technological trends. It provides a highly attractive format for engaging with the cultural heritage which is increasingly popular with users as it allows better understanding and appreciation of our cultural treasures. However relatively little 3D content has yet made its way to Europeana and the digitisation of Europe’s rich cultural heritage in 3D has, as yet, made less progress than the importance of these iconic monuments would suggest.

There have been both technological and communication challenges to be addressed when digitising very large and complex objects: technical challenges, to acquire, manage and represent faithfully the complexity of surfaces and volumes; documentation challenges, to capture relations between the components of each monument and to cultural facts; cultural challenges in conveying the significance of the masterpiece; and communication challenges in publishing the results in a way which is understandable, interesting, entertaining and accessible to general Internet users. Previously funded EU research projects have solved most of the individual issues quoted above, but still mass digitisation of complex monuments is lacking.

The project will exploit existing tools and methods, to integrate them in a complete supply chain of 3D digitisation to contribute a significant mass of 3D content to Europeana.
The project will focus on UNESCO World Heritage monuments and other monuments of outstanding value at European level, to illustrate a particular strand of Europe’s history. The digital content will include overall 3D models and reconstructions, enlarged models of important details, images, texts, videos. It will also include and re-contextualize in 3D, objects belonging to a monument but presently located elsewhere, for example in a museum.

The project’s activities will include both new digitisation as well as the conversion of some existing 3D data into formats which are accessible for Europeana users. The project’s anticipated impact is making accessible through Europeana an unprecedented quantity of high-quality, 3D, well-organized and attractive information about the masterpieces of European architecture and archaeology.

The project aims to
• members of the general public, tourists and students who wish to be able to explore and enjoy architectural and archaeological masterpieces which are often inaccessible to visitors either as a result of their remote locations or because conservation management restricts access to parts of the monuments. 3D models enable access to such sites.
• Europeana users who wish to access, explore and enjoy 3D models together with the related high-quality information. We anticipate that this will have a direct impact on the Europeana service by attracting new users to explore this exciting content.
• The cultural institutions who are in charge of internationally and nationally important monuments and buildings and who need tried and tested mechanisms to produce high quality 3D documentation and publish the results for Europeana as well as on their own websites.
• UNESCO and cultural institutions wishing to find new ways of delivering their missions to promote understanding and increase the sustainability of world and European heritage.
• Content providers and creative industry SMEs wishing to identify sustainable business models to make 3D digitisation of archaeological monuments viable.