Scanning German Architectural Landmarks as 3D Models

Cologne Cathedral, Germany’s most visited tourist attraction, and now is also as 3D model. Since early may, Cologne students scan the Cathedral down to the last detail. Billions of pixels will result in a complete 3D model of the Cathedral. It is part of a virtual archive, which contains the largest monuments of mankind.

Scanning German Architectural Landmarks as 3D Models
Scanning German Architectural Landmarks as 3D Models

The dimensions of the dome experience students of the Cologne Hochschule Fresenius since early May. Climbing in the last corner, to scan the buildings really completely and at the end to produce a 3D model. In mid-November the work should be completed now.

A virtual Ark for world cultural heritage

The DOM could then theoretically build up via 3D printing in any place of the world. But that’s not the point. Chris Wan ends, head of the program “3D-Mind & Media” at the private University for the project by the engineer Ben Kacyra found inspiration. The Americans had developed a mobile, but extremely powerful laser scanner and later sold company for a good money.

Scanning German Architectural Landmarks as 3D Models_
Scanning German Architectural Landmarks as 3D Models

Since 2003 he focused this technique to capture world heritage sites virtually and maintain. “CyArk” short form for “CyberArk”, is the name of Kacyras initiative. Kind of virtual Noah’s Ark where are recorded monuments or landmarks like President heads carved in stone on Mount Rushmore.

In particular the practical side of their training wants to teach students Wick there was the DOM in the sense of the word. Douglas Pritchard by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh won one of the leading surveying specialists as partners.

One million points per second

A look at the scanner, which had to be installed in hundreds of places, to capture all the angles of the building shows how difficult is this process. The device sends laser beams, focused on each a tiny point. In a single second can until targeted to a million such points and measured the distance to it.

Scanning German Architectural Landmarks as 3D Models
Scanning German Architectural Landmarks as 3D Models

In addition a mirror, which deflects the laser beam rotates on the scanner and the device turns also around its horizontal axis. So extremely detailed and accurate shots are created. Wick explains: “we’re not talking about 1600 pixels or so, but about 64 million pixels resolution!”

Scanning German Architectural Landmarks as 3D Models
Laser Scanner in the Cologne Cathedral recording with 64,000,000 pixels resolution as 3D CAD in colors.

In the video, the engineers show how the technology works and the points are as unusual, where the scanner is built. He’s bouncing on a telescopic arm in the middle of the DOM to collect every hidden place. He climbs the Cathedral peak, peeks out through any hole in the Cathedral façade, stands on ledges and smallest platforms.

Scanning German Architectural Landmarks as 3D
Another view on Scanner. This is highest resolution laser on earth.

The Cathedral building Lodge, which constantly works at the Cathedral, hoping for insights into hard to reach areas of the Cathedral by the gigantic model. And the city of Cologne, which has issued a 3D-Abbild of Cologne in the historic town hall, would like to have a bit more precisely build the model of the Cathedral.

By the way, it is not done for a first time that high-tech devices come so close to the Cathedral. Last year, there were drones with high-definition cameras that have filmed the entire façade.