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Vitruvius Basilica in Fano, Italy, journey through the virtual space of the reconstructed memory
The computer allowed us to write a rich page of history on the specific theme and to re-analyze previous pages using new points of view. It is a very powerful instrument to represent and investigate historiography. The computer also allows us to look at the history of the "factory" no longer as a chronological sequence of disjointed knowledge but from a panoramic point of view. With only one "glance" we can gather 2000 years of studies and can efficiently summarize them.
So, again, the computer is fundamental. The fist step was the choice of hardware and software to be used (Hard-ware: Pentium 300 Mhz, 64 Mega Ram - soft-ware: AutoCad 12 Dos for drawing in wire frame and 3DS4 Dos for renderings). This choice allows us to explore the possibility that equipment and common and easy to use software have to create complex virtual models.
It is incorrectly thought that the drawer cannot intervene on this equipment and software because of their "non-modifiability" and due to coded rules which function internally. Actually - and this aspect was one of the themes to be studied in greater depth - the study and the creation of complex models using such equipment requires enormous analytical and interpretative efforts, in order to understand how these instruments can work for the "drawer". The "drawer" must be able to elaborate and define new operative know-how, new work patterns, new operative hypothesis, which substitute those of traditional drawings but which lead to the same aim. The aim is to represent, intended as to "know" and to "analyze", an architectonic object, taken in its most real dimension.
We must say that we would never have been able to reconstruct a global model of the Basilica of Fano using traditional drawing methods. The only chance we had, as seen in the past, was to take only partial aspects (plans, sections, details), which, in effect, are partial and disconnected from the formal and typological context and therefore lose their credibility and reliability resulting only in pure graphical-aesthetic exercises.
The drawing was three-dimensional. AutoCad solid modeler was used exclusively in the creation of the Corinthian capital of the order.
All other surfaces were created using "Mesh" and "3dface" and, where possible, primitive surfaces and curves contained in AutoCad. Once the blocks were completed the model was finally assembled. Because of its complexity and dimension, nobody ever intervened, on this model. It was used only to create single views to be printed with iron wire or to export for maps and renderings on 3DS4. The final model has a dimension, with exploded blocks, of approx. 50 Mega. It has 276,528 faces. It is drawn on 130 layers using approx. 150 colors, which highlights 150 different elements of the drawing. All the views to be printed with iron wire have been "extracted" from this model to create renderings and maps. At first the views "extracted" for plotting were bi-dimensional (file dxb) and then all the "dirty lines" were cleaned, treated and retouched (text, possible quotes, etc…).
About 30 views were created and exported onto specific software in order to be rendered. A Matrox with 65,000 colors and a 1024x768 VGA card has been used with 3ds.
In the following sequences we see the Plan we reconstructed (Fig. 4) an overhead view of the virtual model (Fig. 5) and various images of the Basilica (Fig. 6)
Visit to the Basilica
Using the most significant material we had, we produced a CD. It describes the fascinating path we took in discovering this building and in giving back its form… a building, which had absolutely nothing and to which we gave back its dignity and its characteristics. This CD, which is like an identification document for this building, is, because of the way it is conceived and structured, a multimedia instrument used to communicate, to spread information and also to safeguard all the data gathered about the Basilica.
It gathers all the relative documents, gives easy access to them and helps them to be spread worldwide. It outlines that memory that has been lost during the centuries and which now finds its form again on a magnetic support, which has the task of describing it and passing it on.
Videos together with automatic and interactive animation have been prepared using VRML and Quick Time techniques. The visitor can so enter the Basilica, visit and appreciate it and especially he can, in an interactive way, "read" its history and the events regarding the building from inside its rooms. Quick Time techniques proved to be very useful for this type of work.
These techniques are better known when applied to three-dimensional reconstruction of photographs of interiors or exteriors but can also be used efficiently on dwg models. They capture the viewpoints from the inside or outside of the model and give to a virtual camera located inside the AutoCad software, the same parameters that would be necessary for traditional photographic shots (height of the viewpoint, focus of the lens, angles for the shot, number of frames). The program automatically develops the planned frames, which are later corrected, elaborated and edited using Quick Time Vr on an Apple. The dynamic views (automatic or interactive) can be edited as "scenes" and therefore it is possible to create very contorted paths to follow (which can be verified with a plan) in order to visit the inside of the building. Using the mouse, the visitor can choose the path he prefers. Adding slides with texts, which can be opened and questioned by the visitor, it is possible to construct a virtual museum of the building inside the same building. In this museum the history of the building is told at the same time as this museum takes its form. The films can be seen both using an Apple or a Pc and are available on internet.
- Vitruvio, "De Architectura" a cura di Giovanni Florian, Pisa, 1978
- Quicherat, J., 1877, La Basilique de Fanum construite par Vitruve. In: Revue Archéologique, Parigi, XXXIV.