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3D Modeling and AI are being used for building restoration in Hawaii

To help restore structures destroyed by last August’s wildfires, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa School of Architecture has launched an innovative initiative—a new course where undergraduates learn restoration using technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and virtual 3D modeling.

Students are learning these technologies to digitally restore individual buildings in Lahaina. They are also engaging in discussions with experts from the Hawaiʻi State Preservation Department and architectural practitioners to get insights into the human connection to the place.

Joyce Lin, a student currently enrolled in the course says, “This project allows students to understand the importance of historical preservation through studying what happened in Lahaina and understanding the human connection to a place/building, or the sense of place.”

Using AI and 3D Modeling for Preservation and Restoration of Structures

Technology is helping in restoration efforts worldwide. Landmarks all around the globe are being restored to their former glory using 3D modeling, 3D printing, and AI. Using these modern technologies, teams can analyze, document, and reconstruct intricate details of deteriorating or destroyed structures with accuracy and efficiency.

Students have used digital tools and AI to design buildings like the Wo Hing Society Hall, Masters Reading Room, Baldwin House, and Old Lahaina Courthouse lost in the wildfires. This hands-on experience helps them appreciate Lahaina’s history and cultural significance while learning about new technologies.

Digital Restoration of the Wo Hing Society Hall. Credits – archphj on Youtube.

Michelle Lee, another student enrolled in the course said, “Prior to this course, I was not familiar with the concept of AI and the opportunities that it held. However, it has offered a hands-on approach to rebuilding Lahaina through digital modeling and AI to provide an immersive experience to users.”

Why these two technologies?

Here are the benefits the two technologies offer-

  • Enhanced Accuracy: They allow for precise digital replication of building structures, ensuring accuracy in restoration efforts.
  • Cost Efficiency: By enabling detailed virtual assessments and planning, identifying potential issues early on and reducing costly errors is possible.
  • Time Savings: Decision making is streamlined, and communication is enhanced, leading to faster project completion.
  • Preservation of Historical Integrity: These technologies enable preservationists to capture and replicate intricate architectural details, ensuring the preservation of a building’s historical integrity during restoration.
  • Improved Visualization: 3D modeling provides stakeholders with realistic visualizations of the restored building.
  • Risk Mitigation: AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to identify potential risks and optimize restoration strategies, thereby reducing the likelihood of project delays or failures.
  • Accessibility: Digital replicas created through 3D modeling and AI provide accessible documentation of the building’s original state, aiding in research, education, and future preservation efforts.
  • Sustainability: These technologies contribute to sustainable restoration practices, minimizing environmental impact and resource wastage.

3D modeling technology greatly facilitates restoration processes. One example is the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. When fires destroyed the structure, preservationists used advanced 3D modeling techniques, to create detailed digital twins of the structure. These 3D models provide architects, engineers, and craftsmen with invaluable tools for precise analysis and reconstruction of damaged elements.

3D modeling proves to be an essential tool in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. We can create detailed digital replicas, streamline decision-making, enhance communication, and optimize project outcomes.

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