An Italian-led team to restore the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Guidelines designed by the Politecnico di Milano, a champion of the conservation of cultural heritage

“The first stone was lifted and blessed on 14 March.A sacred restoration, in its own way, with prayers in three languages. The patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Custodian of the Holy Land and the Armenian patriarch all appear in the photo opportunity, shovel in hand.". This is how Giovanna Maria Fagnani describes in the Corriere della Sera the ceremony for the start of the works to restore the floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

This "most delicate architectural and engineering project” ” is also of highly symbolic value, and is the result of an agreement signed last October between the Christian communities which have historically been the guardians of holy sites. The restoration work is scheduled to last around 2 years and will engage an international pool of universities, in which Italy plays a key coordinating role. Together with the Politecnico di Milano, there are also researchers from La Sapienza University of Rome and the engineering companies IG from Turin and Manens from Padua. Centro Conservazione e Restauro La Venaria Reale di Torino is leading the project.

Credits: Quotidiano Nazionale

The Politecnico has created the guidelines for modelling and sharing data on the conservation project. In addition, during the photogrammetric survey, our researchers obtained over 50,000 high-resolution images using a custom-designed Heritage-BIM survey system. As professor Luigi Fregonese, lecturer at the Architecture, Urban Planning and Construction Engineering School on the Politecnico di Milano’s Mantua Campus, explains:

“It comprises a special trolley, onto which a complex system of intensity- and colour-controlled lighting and acquisition has been engineered. All this was integrated with a topographic survey for processing and verifying the final result, a very high-resolution, metrically reliable and precise digital image, or orthophoto, of the entire floor of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre”.

Several groups at the Politecnico di Milano are working on the conservation of cultural assets and the enhancement of this common heritage. The historic partnership between the university and the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo involves researchers from all departments and has a dual objective: on the one hand, to rationalise and perfect the conservation and restoration of our cathedral; on the other, to take advantage of such a valuable site/laboratory where our students and researchers can carry out field work and experience real problems using state-of-the-art technology.

The full story of “How to repair the Duomo” is explained in MAP 3

Another example is the new LaBora laboratory, where, thanks to technologies such as the Hologram Table and the Virtual Theatre, we are able to view the Santa Maria delle Grazie complex in a totally new way: “174 scans, a 30-gig cloud of points,”, explains professor  Cecilia Maria Bolognesi, lecturer in Representation and Modelling in the Department of Architecture, Construction Engineering and the Built Environment: "From the Table, we can visit virtually the entire complex, inside and outside of the church, go into the cloisters and the Bramante Sacristy, and observe both the state of decay and the beauty of these vaults,”, con un livello di dettaglio impossibile anche di persona, con definizioni fino a 5 mm.

Find out more about the new LaBora laboratory on the Politecnico di Milano Alumni website

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