3D scanning the holiest of holy sites

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is on the site where Jesus is said to have been crucified and resurrected (Gerd Eichmann/CC BY-SA 4.0)

3D scanning has been used on a major restoration project at Christianity’s most hallowed site: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Global Construction Review reported that built environment researchers from the Politecnico di Milano collected more than 50,000 detailed images of the site where Jesus Christ is said to have been crucified and resurrected. The researchers then created detailed 3D models of the church’s floor ahead of the project to conserve and restore it, conduct archeological research and install plumbing and other services.

The project was jointly funded by the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches, and will also evaluate the stability of the Holy Edicule, a shrine built to enclose what is considered to be Christ’s empty tomb.

Led by architect and archeologist Osama Hamdan of the Al Quds University in Jerusalem, the team collected the data between September and October 2021 using a bespoke system.

“The system we designed consists of a special trolley on which we engineered an articulated lighting and acquisition system, with controlled intensity and colouring,” said Professor Luigi Fregonese from Politecnico di Milano. “This was integrated with a topographic survey for processing and verifying the final result, a digital image – an orthophoto, with very high resolution, metrically reliable and precise – of the entire floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.”

Data collection had to be unobtrusive so as not to disturb hundreds of pilgrims coming to the site every day.

3D models were created by scanning more than 50,000 images of the church’s floor (image courtesy of Politecnico di Milano)

The model was created by the MantovaLab-Hesutech research group from Politecnico di Milano Mantua Campus, coordinated by professors Fregonese, Andrea Adami, Stefano della Torre and Mantua Campus vice rector Federico Bucci.

The project manager for the restoration, on behalf of the Custody of the Holy Land, is the Centro di Conservazione e Restauro La Venaria Reale in Turin, with the support of a multidisciplinary team, while the direction of the archaeological excavation has been entrusted to La Sapienza University of Rome.

Don’t miss out on BIM and digital construction news: sign up to receive the BIMplus newsletter.

Story for BIM+? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News