Preserving Historical Transformation: Augmented Reality at the San Baudelio de Berlanga Hermitage

As a commitment to developing and implementing digital technologies in preservation practices, this project is a fresh approach to documenting, interpreting and preserving the transformations that architectural spaces endure over time. Augmented Reality (AR) technology offers new opportunities to advance and redefine architectural preservation practices. However, there currently exist very few precedents for its application in the field. As a response, this project seeks to implement AR technology in the complex case of the San Baudelio de Berlanga Hermitage, becoming a paradigm for the use of AR technology in future preservation projects.

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Background

During the 20th century a strappato process was used to remove the wall paintings from the Hemitage’s interior. Since the paintings are now scattered across museums around the globe, reintegration of them is impossible. However, AR technology offers an innovative method for restoring the paintings and the Hermitage to their original context. We are creating an AR application that uses digital overlays to put the paintings back on the walls of the Hermitage.

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approach

Augmented Reality technology presents itself as the most viable and optimal preservation treatment for this monument. This non-invasive technique allows the monument to continue serving as a spiritual sanctuary, while documenting and preserving its transformation over time. Offering users such an immersive, interactive experience of the site blurs the line between the site’s present remains and its digital restoration. This project will turn the Hermitage into a living document of the historical deterioration that architectural spaces suffer over time and thus redefine preservation practices as such.

The concept driving this project is to consider, engage and communicate the tangible and intangible dimensions of the monument in its entirety, including its historical transformations. By providing the user with graphic and approachable narrative content, we are creating an immersive, interactive experience of the Hermitage. By allowing users the freedom to adjust various visual parameters in the application, we are putting the site’s current condition in dialogue with its original state. This will provide the researcher and layperson alike with a deeper understanding of the site as a whole.