Postgraduate students from the University of the Aegean with Dr. Andreas Georgopoulos, taking site measurements during a photogrammetry field school in the archaeological site of Delphi, Greece in 2017.
Documenting local heritage structures through photogrammetry
Unesco agency to conduct field school for heritage conservation this September in Intramuros; 15 scholarships available for those outside Metro Manila
The massive earthquake of 2013 damaged numerous historic churches in Bohol, where one of the country’s largest collection of coral and early concrete churches, mostly dating from the Spanish colonial era, are located.
That earthquake, more than any previous campaigns to preserve the country’s cultural patrimony, brought the risk of losing more heritage structures to natural disasters to public consciousness.
As a result, public attention turned to other threats to the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage, including rampant development and the push of economic forces.
The threat of forever losing links to our history and heritage has become more urgent.
One dilemma conservators and restorers are faced with is the lack of information on built heritage.
In the past, keeping records might not have been a strict practice. Moreover, many of the records may have been lost or damaged.
Documentation is of utmost importance, and a necessary first step in heritage preservation. While in the past, this was a tedious process of manually measuring and visually describing objects or structures, today, there are options that can speed up the process but without sacrificing accuracy. All of this is made possible by the advancement of technology.
Digital scanning has become a documentation tool of choice. It has sped up documentation, while making use of the data in various ways such as virtual walk-throughs, hi-res files for poster printing and griding of large surfaces, among others.
Degraded areas unseen from ground level are made visible through the laser’s eye.
But the process requires expensive equipment and a high level of technical expertise. It is out of the reach for many heritage project sites.
The International Council of Monuments and Sites (Icomos) Philippines, an advisory body to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (Unesco), is addressing the concern by offering an international field school on Photogrammetry—the science of making measurements through photographs.
As an alternative to the more costly laser scanning, Photogrammetry offers an accessible, technology-friendly and less costly way to document heritage structures, sites and artifacts.
It can be done using a smart-phone and free software, yielding an accurate document with the comparable precision of a laser scan.
Many times, calls for help from heritage advocates or concerned citizens all over the country are forwarded to conservation experts. By learning the skills that Photogrammetry offers, nontechnical stakeholders can use this science to document their local heritage. The resulting metric images can then be used as reference for future restoration work.
The field school is a joint project of Icomos and Cipa (Comité International de la Photogrammétrie Architecturale) Heritage Documentation.
Collaborators are the Intramuros Administration and National Technical University of Athens (NTUA.)
Conservation expert Andreas Georgopoulos, Cipa president and head of the NTUA Laboratory of Photogrammetry, and his colleague, Margarita Skamantzari, a Master’s of Science in Monument Protection, will conduct the field school from Sept. 16-20 at Casa Blanca, Intramuros.
Grants from the Museum Foundation of the Philippines, Inc., and Metrobank Foundation, Inc. have enabled scholarships to be offered to up to 15 students from outside of Metro Manila. Applications are now being accepted.