FARO Technologies is enthusiastic about the support it was able to give to Andrew Saunders, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in setting up a digital archive of baroque art and architecture. Saunders, who works for the architecture department, spent six weeks in Italy scanning and archiving some of the most prominent examples of Italian baroque architecture. In accordance with the objective of the University of Pennsylvania to “serve the public interest – both locally and globally – with the help of art, design, planning and conservation”, the project attempted to develop a superior method for digitally researching the extremely complex baroque architecture.

With a FARO Focus3D X 130 laser scanner, data was recorded showing the rich development from the early and heyday of the baroque in Rome to the late baroque in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. The archive contains work by Francesco Borromini, Bernardo Vittone, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Pietro da Cortona Guarino Guarini and Carlo Rainaldi. Accurate 3D models of the interior spaces were made in several churches, which can now be viewed in color.

Andrew Saunders emphasized that, given the many challenges, this project would not have been possible without the support of the team members, including FARO, Autodesk and the Italian contacts, allowing access to the scans.

FARO made an important contribution to this project by making a Focus3D X 130 laser scanner available. This ultra-mobile instrument registers complex structures and delivers realistic and detailed scan results. The high resolution scanner has a range of 0.6 m to 30 m and a distance accuracy of ± 2 mm. With a scanning speed of 1 million points per second, the dimensions of objects and buildings are recorded quickly, smoothly and accurately. FARO also provided software and training for those who had to operate the laser scanner. The scans were used to set up an extensive digital archive. With the high resolution scans of the FARO Focus3D X 130, the control, calibration and investigation of baroque structures was possible.

Saunders said: “Because we can register, record and simulate larger and larger datasets, coupled with cloud computing and the ever-cheaper 3D printing technology, new possibilities and methods for studying and analyzing the complexity and representation of architecture are created.”

The results of this project are exceptional in many respects. With the collected data one now has digital access to some of the most important churches in the world, and in a way that was not possible before. In addition, specialists with the recorded scan data can perform the reverse engineering of the algorithms on which this truly impressive baroque architecture is based.

However, the project is not yet completely finished. It is intended that the archive be used for a thorough analysis and comparison of the Italian churches. In addition, the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, in collaboration with Autodesk, will make the archive available to students, scientists and the public.

For interactive 360 ​​degree views of the baroque architecture: click here .