Jul
07
2017

Sacred Scanning Interiors

Toward the end of last summer, after he had finished his scans of Baroque churches in Rome and Turin and was back in his Meyerson Hall office, Andrew Saunders began sending massive batches of data to the cloud. He had scanned the interiors of each sumptuous church from multiple vantages, using a top-of-the-line LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) scanner. At the high-resolution setting he used, each scan comprised about 15 million points, with less than a centimeter separating each point. The trick was to get all the scans to mesh together, without overlaps or gaps.
“We’d send 200 million points to the cloud—up to 90 gigabytes—and two or three days later, we’d get back an email” from Autodesk, a California-based software firm, recalls Saunders, an associate professor of architecture. “One time it has a smiley face and says, ‘Congratulations! Your mesh worked. You can download it.’ Other times, after two days you get a frown face that says, ‘Sorry, it didn’t work.’ It’s really kind of a blind process.”
But once they meshed, he says: “All of a sudden you’re seeing these churches as nobody’s ever seen them before.”
 
Space may seem infinite, ubiquitous, even timeless.But confine it to the interior of a soaring, wildly complex Baroque
structure—say, Guarini’s Church of San Lorenzo in Turin—and it becomes, in the right hands, with the right technology, something else altogether.
“It’s essentially an argument for space as an object,” says the 42-year-old Saunders, who speaks openly and quickly, with a certain professional dryness. That argument is at the heart of his Baroque Topologies project, which he unveiled at Charles Addams Hall last winter, and which he is now writing up in book form. (Publication details are still being worked out.)
Even the term space, as a component of architecture, is relatively new, he points out. “Frank Lloyd Wright in the ’20s was the first one to really use it. It’s kind of a contemporary concept, and I think it’s continuing to change.”
For those inclined to regard space as an object as gaseous academic theory, consider this: you can, with the right technology, print out the objectified space on a 3D printer. (On a reduced scale, of course, which is a good thing for any building housing that printer.) It’s the equivalent of filling each church to the top with Jell-O, shrinking it down to a tiny fraction of its original size, and removing it. Except that Saunders’ translucent photopolymer resin molds have far more detail and articulation, right down to the non-space that had been occupied by altar cherubs and high-flying angels.

On the computer screen, these digital renderings are protean, morphing at the click of a mouse from solid 3D printouts to

ghostly X-rays to a sort of internal death mask. They are also strange and toothsome eye candy.
The images “force us to see complex buildings with fresh eyes,” says Joseph Connors, a professor of art history and architecture at Harvard who specializes in the Italian Renaissance and Baroque. “Their beauty and their strangeness shock us into new recognitions of buildings we thought were familiar. They reify space, making it into a sculpted substance in which the contained takes on life, even when the enclosing container is peeled away.
The buildings always had a strange beauty, but now they have shock value too,” he adds. “It is as though the familiar bust of Homer on our desk were suddenly replaced by the brain of Homer.” At times, the freshness borders on hallucination. One rendering brings to mind an ornate Japanese robot. Another suggests a rococo decanter. A third, an exquisitely decorated fire hydrant. “It’s something that leaves us curious, excited, and perplexed at the same time,” says Guido Zuliani, an architect who teaches at the Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union. “Because it’s all new, and because of the beauty of these things, it may be deceiving, but there is an intellectual chain—in terms of the Baroque, in terms of architectural analysis, and in terms of a different model of understanding an architectural object.”
Unlike Renaissance or Modernist architecture, the Baroque is “so completely complex,” says Saunders. “It has so much articulation. It’s always about blurring thresholds between painting, sculpture, architecture, the city.” In a recent talk, he described the space of Baroque interiors as a “maelstrom of pressure and forces with a paradoxical desire of purely mathematical speculation and religious mysticism bound in a taut envelope.”
Connors paints an eloquent picture of what we perceive when we enter, for example, Bernini’s Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale and gaze upwards: “the dome we see is a fiction of superimposed structures: ribs inside coffers that diminish perspectivally to
expand the surface that covers us.” Saunders’ models, he explains, not only show such vaults “with the clarity of a high-resolution photograph, but they also show the space the dome contains. We have the illusion that we can run our hands over space and feel its contours and inflections.” For Saunders, those “deep, withdrawn, interior spaces are really amazing to study because they’re so cut off from the exterior.”
“They’re just their own sort of worlds,” he adds. “Any kind of light, even natural light, is usually indirect or very far or bouncing back.
You never get a direct view out of them—they’re just kind of deep chasms that you enter into.”
Before traveling to Italy last summer, Saunders flew to Florida for a training session on the FARO Laser Scanner Focus 3D X 130, which can scan at nearly a million points per second and has a range of 130 meters.
“I found that it’s being used mostly in criminology and surveying,” he says. “In architecture and historic preservation, it’s used to look at a very specific piece, not an entire building.”
Had he been forced to buy the scanner, it would have wiped out the entire $50,000 University Research Fund grant he had procured to cover his expenses in Italy. Fortunately, FARO agreed to lend him one for a month, gratis.
Autodesk also allowed him to use, among other things, its ReCap (for Reality Capture) and ReMake software. Without their ability to generate high-resolution meshes, he says, he never would have been able to make the renderings.
“Autodesk has been a huge, huge help,” he adds. “Right now this is a very big realm, not just for Baroque historical analysis—which it is but even for the industry: engineering, architecture. Because they’re trying to figure out how to work with this large amount of data within their typical tools for making construction documents or representation. The stuff that we’re doing wasn’t even possible to do
weeks ago. We’re working with Autodesk and changing the algorithms for how they’re processing all of this stuff.”
Autodesk was thinking mainly of industrial designers and engineers when it started its cloud computing service, he explains. “They’re scanning a lot of infrastructure, oil platforms, things with a huge number of pipes and services, and they want to make sure that what- ever new thing they’re putting in doesn’t collide with anything. So they scan them and make them into meshes, and use them for collision detection. Then all of a sudden 18 Baroque churches start rolling through. And they’re like, What is this stuff? They got really interested.”
Tatjana Dzambazova, Autodesk’s senior product manager and “technology whisperer,” confirms that when she and her colleagues “started making the tech, we were thinking of architects, engineers, contractors.” But, she adds, “disruptors like Andrew show us that when smart, curious, caring people are given new technological tools, they think of ways they can push the boundaries of their profession, which so often go beyond what we, the makers of that same tech, ever had in mind.”
During his time in Rome,  Saunders focused mainly on the churches of Borromini, Bernini, Cortona, and Rinaldi. Then he headed north to Turin, where Guarini represented a “natural progression from Borromini, about 50 to 100 years later,” he explains. The progression “basically charts an evolution of the Baroque central plan in High Baroque from 1600 to 1700 in Rome, and then 1700 to 1750 in Turin.”
One doesn’t just wander into those venerable edifices and start scanning, though. Permission requires supplicating local and national layers of state and church bureaucracy. “That was one of the most challenging aspects,” he admits. “It started slowly, but then I started to make really good contacts and was able to access quite a few.” By the time he left Rome, he had been able to scan most of its important Baroque churches, apart from those in security-crazed Vatican City. One morning, at the Church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome, he made his way into a tiny underground crypt—the Falconiere Crypt—designed by Borromini.
“Not many people know about it,” he says. “You have to go into this two-foot passageway to get down there. So I went down into it, and I scanned it, and I came back out.”
Tried to, anyway. By then a “full-on mass” was under way.
“I just couldn’t come out with my scanner in the middle of mass,” he says. “There was no way to escape. So I spent the entire mass underground in this crypt. It was very small, and kind of creepy.”
Back in the old days of scanning —say, two or three years ago—“people had to use physical targets,” Saunders explains. “You would have to plant spheres around the site, or targets that you would pin up on walls. When you came back to register the scans, or composite them together so that they overlapped, you would have to find the spheres yourself and kind of stitch the pieces back together. But now the software and algorithms have gotten so advanced that they can find patterns and automatically register
and scan and put everything together.”
Even so, “in the case of someone like Bernini, where there’s so much figuration and columns within columns, you could scan for days and still miss parts,” he acknowledges. “So one of the things my research assistant [Ariel Cooke-
Zamora GAr’19] has been doing is patching and cleaning up all these areas.”
In Cooke-Zamora’s view, the Baroque Topologies project has transformed laser scanning “from a surveying tool to a
representational one,” with serious benefits for architecture students.
“I’m very lucky to have been one of the first people to see these churches in this way,” he says. “Orbiting around the point cloud grants the viewer perspectives that have never been seen—not even by the architect himself.”
Connors compares some of Saunders’ digital renderings to certain “astounding drawings” by Borromini, which “give us
the impression that we are seeing through structures as in an X-ray.” This same quality, he adds, “is evident when we see, in Saunders’ models, [Borromini’s] buildings as though they had turned to glass and we could look through them as we fly above them. They are images that grab us by the shoulders and shake us into new perceptions of Baroque architecture.”
When he taught a graduate seminar on Baroque architecture this past spring, Saunders and his high-tech renderings were able to address a longstanding problem for students of the genre. The architects left no blueprints behind, and had often improvised as they went along. As a result, he says, any plans they did draw up usually “have little to do with what actually gets built.” True, there are plenty of photographs to study, but those two-dimensional representations seldom capture the full three-dimensional realities.
“Oftentimes I found that an architectural drawing of, say, Bernini’s Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale did not match the existing form of the church,” says Cooke-Zamora. And until now, “a student doing a formal analysis of these works would have had to model the space using existing—often scarce or inaccurate—reference images.”
“We went from students finding four or five photographs and squinting at them, trying to figure out what the three-dimensionality is, to printing fragments by someone like Vittone—not having to visualize; just 3D-printing it, like they’re printing pieces of this church to analyze,” says Saunders. “It’s kind of mind-blowing.”
The scans make for a “night-and-day difference,” he adds. “Within two weeks, the students really know the difference between Cortona, Rinaldi, Borromini.”
“One thing I saw in some of the work of Andy’s seminar was the possibility to deconstruct the object differently, to understand differently the layers and strata of this kind of activation of space,” says Guido Zuliani. “The work raises the possibility of taking certain moldings or decorations and analyzing them separately from the rest of the building with incredible precision, which will elimi-
nate some of the ambiguities or guessing that is normally done.
“It is a little bit early to understand the range of possibilities,” he adds, “but the range is really big.”
For Saunders, teaching the only course in PennDesign’s Master of Architecture sequence that covers architectural history before 1850—and doing it with laser scans and 3D printouts—is a rewarding kind of time warp.
“I enjoy that,” he says simply. “It’s very Baroque.”
Feb
23
2017

Baroque Topologies

FARO Technologies are thrilled to have aided Andrew Saunders, Associate Professor from the University of Pennsylvania to accomplish his mission of collecting a digital archive of Baroque art and architecture.  Saunders, who works in the Department of Architecture travelled to Italy for six weeks in order to scan and archive some of the most prominent Italian Baroque architecture. Following the University of Pennsylvania’s commitment to ‘advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation,’ the purpose of this project was to discover a superior method to digitally explore highly complex baroque architecture.

By using a FARO Focus3D X 130 laser scanner, data was captured showing the prospering evolution from the early and high baroque in Rome extending to the late baroque in the Piedmont Region in Northern Italy. The archive includes work from Francesco Borromini, Bernardo Vittone, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Pietro da Cortona Guarino Guarini, and Carlo Rainaldi. Precise 3D models were produced of the interior spaces of various churches which can now be viewed in full colour.

Taking into account that there were many challenges during this project, Andrew Saunders pointed out that the project would not have been possible without the contributions it received from its co-workers including FARO, Autodesk and the Italian contacts that made it possible to gain access to the scans.

FARO made a significant contribution to this project by providing a Focus3D X 130 laser scanner. This ultra-portable device allows users Topologies, FARO, University of Pennsylvania, baroque art, FAto record complex structures delivering realistic and true-to-detail scan results. The high resolution scanner has a range from 0.6m up to 30m and a distance accuracy of up to ±2mm. It also has a one million points per second scanning rate enabling fast, straightforward and accurate measurements of objects and buildings. FARO also offered software and training to those who had the responsibility of operating the laser scanner. The purpose of these scans was to create a comprehensive digital archive of the work. High resolution scans using the FARO Focus3D X 130 allowed verification, calibration and discovery of Baroque topologies.

Saunders stated, “The ability to capture, record and simulate increasingly larger sets of data, coupled with remote access to cloud computing and progressively more affordable additive fabrication technology, provides new opportunities and methods for understanding and assessing complexity and representation in architecture.”

The results from this project are extraordinary in many ways. The data that has been collected will now create digital access to some of the most prominent churches in the world, in a way that has never been available before. Furthermore, the captured scan data will allow experts to carry out reverse engineering of the algorithms behind the truly astounding baroque architecture.

However, the project is still not yet completed. It is intended that the archive will be used for in depth analysis and comparisons between the Italian churches. Moreover, The University of Pennsylvania School of Design will now work with Autodesk in order to make the archive available to the public as well as other students and scholars.

To access interactive 360 degrees views of the baroque architecture please click here. 

Jun
16
2016

Focus3D scans the Sinaia Casino to deliver detailed 360° view in Webshare Cloud

The Casino in Sinaia, Romania was built at the initiative of King Carol I of Romania between 1912-1913. The Sinaia Casino was designed by the famous Romanian architect Petre Antonescu. The building is considered a historic monument and serves as an International Conference Centre. A detailed examination of the site’s current condition was required in order to lay down the restoration and preservation project. Therefore the 3D laser scanning method was chosen in order to carry out the survey of the monument. “Our task was to create a complete Building Information Management system in 2D (ground plans) and 3D (point cloud data) as soon as possible, so that planning and construction work will be based on reliable information. To do this, we deployed two expert teams.
One team was on site scanning with a FARO Focus3D laser scanner while the other team was processing the point cloud data” explains CEO International Partner Buro, Dipl. Ing. Marian Radoi.

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“For complex projects as this the Focus3D offers many advantages. It is a non-invasive method of data collection, appropriate in case of surveying historic buildings. The large amount of data, obtained in a very short time, allows for the analysis of the current state of a monument. The great amount of captured details allows planning preservation and rehabilitation works, as well as monitoring the intervention in time.” says Dipl. Ing. Marian Radoi.

Read more

Apr
27
2016

Pompeii new secrets revealed

A new special of the BBC One show Pompeii: New Secrets Revealed with Mary Beard has helped uncover some myteries in Pompeii. This is one of the most iconic archaeological sites and with the use of the FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D unearthed the human stories behind the casts hidden underground.  The presenter of the show Mary Beard is a passionate TV historian who wanted to find out the truth the bodies underneath the ashes. This ancient city was destroyed by volcanic ash and pumice during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. Researchers were able to examine in detail the remains of bodies to find out more about how these people lived their lives thousands of years ago.

Picture_Pompeii_Video

The precise yet simple laser scanner is especially suited to the outdoors due to its small size and lightweight capabilities. The FARO Focus3D Laser scanner was able to perform the most detailed scan of the archaeological site and was shown on the BBC One show for the world to see. The Focus3D can create a precise, virtual copy of the scanned objects at millimetre accuracies in only minutes by capturing up to 976,000 data points per second. Estelle Lazer from the University of Sydney was able along with her team to help Mary unpick the remains which are preserved in Pompeii.

ScanLABProject Pompeii New Secrets Revealed  on Vimeo.

Oct
14
2015

Increased safety for pieces of art

Now it’s official: paintings and pieces of art that have been scanned with the FARO Focus3D suffer no damage through heat. This has been confirmed by a report by Seibersdorf Labor GmbH.

The recordings of pieces of art or interiors of museums is quick and reliable with laser scanners – and can even be done during visiting hours thanks to the safety of scanners for eyes. Nevertheless, the question of whether pieces of art suffer damage as a result of scanning arises time and again. Reason enough for FARO to have this danger investigated in a report.

Oil paintings are seen as particularly sensitive. Paint and oil have low thermal conductivity and heat capacity values. The high-energy laser could cause an increase in the temperature on the surface and damage the substance of the painting considerably. The report does away with these fears.

Meet the new FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D X 330
For a worst case scenario, a FARO Focus3D X was set up at a distance of one metre from an oil painting – without any protective glass between the piece and the scanner. If a scan is conducted in which the scanner moves horizontally – as is customary in practice – there is a temperature increase on the surface of the oil painting of less than 1.3 degrees Celsius. Even if the head of the scanner doesn’t move and the painting is thus scanned with the laser beams for several minutes, the maximum temperature increase is under 2 degrees Celsius.

To test restorative techniques for example, it is normal to place items with oil paints in an oven for several days at over 60 degrees Celsius and so accelerate an aging process. Against this backdrop, it quickly becomes clear that a short-term temperature increase of less than 2 degrees Celsius due to the FARO Focus3D will cause no damage. This has now been confirmed in the report by Seibersdorf Labor GmbH. It also permits the conclusion that photochemical effects are very unlikely at a wavelength of 1,550 nm – good news for the use of the FARO family of laser scanners in the area of cultural assets.

Jul
08
2015

Multirotor (UAV) Laser Scanning – Eckartsau Palace

Old but gold. The video below, filmed back in 2013 shows how 4D-IT had the vision to revolutionize the measurement business.After months of development and multiple hurdles, they finally reached their goal:”Project Kronos” came to life!

It was the first time worldwide, that a FARO laserscanner was used on a multirotor aircraft (UAV) and the results were very promising!

Jun
10
2015

FARO scanners adapt to the access constraints of Mont Saint-Michel

Known worldwide and welcoming about 3.5 million visitors each year, the Mont Saint-Michel abbey is a major centre of attraction. As it is exposed to bad weather, it benefits from frequent restoration work. The French Centre for National Monuments (CMN) is currently focusing its efforts on the Merveille building, located just to the north of the abbey’s church, and containing the cloister, refectory, work room and chaplaincy. Together, these structures make up two sets of three-storey buildings, resting on the slope of the rock and extending approximately 90 m in length, 40 m in width and up to 50 m high.

numerisation-mt-st-michel-agp-faro-1

“To prepare for this restoration the CMN  asked us to produce a detailed digital rendering of the  site so they would have access to a very precise survey, which was not available from the existing plans they had access to,” explained Lazare Grenier, Topography and Survey Engineer at Art Graphique & Patrimoine (AGP). The company, with long experience in using FARO equipment, decided to use scanners for this application. The topography of the site is complex and they needed to work outside of visiting hours. Simply put, a maximum of efficiency was required in a minimum of time. In these conditions, AGP was able to get the most out of the methodology they use in this type of application. This consists in defining all the locations where scanners will be placed in advance of placement to limit the amount of overlapping, and above all to avoid forgetting a hidden area. “This task led us to select almost 700 locations for placing the scanners.”

numerisation-mt-st-michel-agp-faro-3

For the Mont Saint-Michel site, AGP used the FARO Focus 3D X 330 over a period of four weeks in late 2014. Certain parts of the site, notably the exterior walls above the cliff, were not visible from any position on the surface, so the digitisation was done using airborne equipment: to achieve this, AGP relied on traditional photogrammetry, since the onboard scanners did not have a high enough precision. The assembly of the scans is done using SCENE software from FARO.

With many years of experience under his belt using FARO scanners, Lazare Grenier takes stock of lighter and more compact than their predecessors. They are more precise, easier to use and work off batteries. They also have increased their depth of field and are able to record scenes which are much closer, as well as much further away. These scanners also allow for digitising buildings in complete darkness or in full sunlight ensuring total safety for the public in terms of their eyesight. All of this is particularly important in an application such as that of Mont Saint- Michel, where there are many constraints for scanner placement, requiring the scanner to be placed very close to the target in some cases, and farther away in other cases.”

May
22
2015

FARO UK @ GeoBusiness 2015

An opportunity for geospatial technology manufacturers and service providers to meet face-face with their users to demonstrate the latest technological advances in equipment, explore solutions and capabilities and to collaborate on design issues and options for future developments and requirements.

GeoBusiness London 2015 - The Geospatial Event

FARO will also be in attendance promoting the FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner with accompanying FARO Scene Software. The smallest and lightest laser scanners on the market – FARO Focus3D X Series are ideal tools for indoor and outdoor applications. The fast and accurate laser scanners Focus3D offer everything you might expect from professional 3D laser scanners – with FARO’s established and well-known level of simplicity.

Also being demonstrated will be the groundbreaking FARO Scanner Freestyle3D. The new FARO Freestyle3D is a premium quality, high-precision handheld 3D scanner that can quickly and reliably documents rooms, structures and objects in 3D and create high-definition pointclouds. The highly efficient scanner is suitable for all applications in which installations or properties must be precisely and quickly measured from various perspectives. Thanks to its lightweight carbon fibre body, the FARO Freestyle3D weighs less than a kilogramme, rendering it extremely portable and mobile.

Date:27th-28th May 2015

Location: Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, London, N1 0QH, United Kingdom

May
08
2015

PX Engineering Refine Bio-fuels Manufacturing Plant

The PX group is a fully integrated infrastructure solutions business that has earned an excellent reputation for delivering enhanced operating performance to commercial and industrial facilities. Improvements are produced through a strategic divisional structure that is focused upon three key delivery areas – Engineering Consultancy, Operations & Maintenance and Energy Trading.

Operating globally, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, px’s wide range of capabilities have been developed and expanded throughout the group’s 20 plus years of experience in managing, operating and maintaining some of world’s largest industrial facilities.

The recent use of an advanced FARO Focus X330 laser scanner illustrates px’s use of cutting-edge on-time, on-budget delivery of complex projects.

point cloud data px engineering

Following px Engineering Consultants Limited (Part of the px Group) recent completion of the design and construction of a large extension to an existing Biofuels Manufacturing Plant, a FARO Focus X330 was used to precisely scan the completed project. The comprehensive, as-built 3D scans of the prestigious Teesside, UK plant, that produces biofuel from waste oils, were then compared to the original px 3D design model by using Autodesk Navisworks software.

As-built surveys, using high precision 3D laser scanning technology, such as the FARO Focus3D X 330, provide users with detailed point clouds which enable 3D modelling for a range of diverse tasks, including building reconstruction, plant layout and enhanced data presentation with augmented reality.

With the ability to deliver impressively quick turnaround times on scans of buildings and entire environments, the FARO Focus3D X 330 can deliver fully surfaced CAD models for a variety of industries. Architectural design, civil engineering and construction, facility management, and cultural heritage sectors have all benefited from FARO’s advanced 3D solutions.

ScanData PX Engineering

The Focus3D X 330, as used by the px group on the Greenergy, Seal Sands, Biodiesel Plant project, is the extra-long range – 330m, version of the range. The extremely compact light weight unit – 240 x 200 x 100mm – 5,2kg is ideal for outdoor applications. Simple scanner control is assisted by touchscreen operation a clear display and WLAN.

With an impressive distance accuracy of ±2mm, the Focus3D X 330 has an impressive measurement speed of up to 976,000 points/second and features an integral colour camera (up to 70 mio. Pixel), a multisensor: GPS, a compass, a height Sensor and a dual axis compensator.

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Apr
16
2015

FARO UK @ Integrating Emerging Technologies in the AEC Sector

Exploring new technologies and their application within the Architecture, Engineering & Construction sector

Leading with a discussion on the significant impact of 3D printing within the world of architecture, INITION will highlight how this and other cutting-edge technologies continue to advance, enabling new ways to present and understand data.

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With live demonstrations of in-house 3D scanners and printers, haptic interfaces, augmented and virtual realities, and diverse high-end visualisation systems, INITION and FARO will help impart an understanding of how these solutions can be used to improve all stages of project developments including planning and engagement, ultimately increasing visual impact and the overall delivery of information.

The evening will feature keynotes from:

Dave Southam, Regional Manager Europe, Faro

Dave will be presenting the latest laser scanning equipment including the newly released FARO Freestyle 3D and taking a look at the latest software developments are making it easier to use and share the results.

Stephen Holmes, Digital Media Editor, Develop3D

Size Isn’t Everything: 3D Printing Buildings Big and Small, Stephen will explore how 3D printing can impact the AEC sector in a variety of ways.

 

Quick Facts

What: AEC Sector Networking Event
When: 16th April 2015, 6-9pm
Where: Our Shoreditch Demo Studio, 23 Curtain Road
Who: Professionals within the Architectural, Engineering or Construction sectors
Tickets are available here.

 



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