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. 

Apr
08
2016

4 Reasons to attend the MACH Fair

It’s that time of the year again! FARO will be attending the UK’s premier manufacturing technologies exhibition, MACH 2016. This event runs every 2 years.

With a 7 days left until the exhibition check out the 4 reasons to be at the FARO stand booth 5910.

 

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 FARO Robo Imager- The first mobile, ready to work 3D measurement solution will be on show at the MACH Fair. A mobile and flexible robot with a setup time of less than 5 minutes, it is seen as a product with great benefits for the automotive, aerospace and mechanical engineering industry.

FARO experts on hand to help – The wonderful expert team will be on hand to help you out with any queries you may have. You will be provided with the opportunity to see live demonstrations from a wide range of products from Metrology & 3D Documentation.

 

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Great Quality stands – There will be a wide range of innovative products from many different exhibitors. FARO will be exhibiting a wide range of products from Metrology and 3D Documentation. This will include the newly highly-adaptable FARO Factory Array 3D Imager, a metrology grade non-contact scanner which utilizes blue light technology to capture millions of high resolution 3D coordinate measurements in seconds. We will also be presenting the high speed FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D X Series for detailed 3D modelling and image documentation as well as the recently released 3D Laser Scanner Freestyle3D X with enhanced accuracy of 1 millimetre at a 1-metre range.

Raffle Prize – Test your knowledge of the FARO Factory Array 3D Imager and your in with a chance to win a prize. Test your knowledge of our new scanner metrological level FARO 3D Imager Array Cobalt for the production workshop and assembly . Come to stand booth 5910 and take our quiz and return your completed ballot in the ballot box at the FARO booth. You can also download the quiz here.

 

COBALT RAFFLE

 

You will be able to find the answers on our FARO Factory Array Imager information page.

Don’t forget stand booth 5910

 

 

Oct
19
2015

FARO @ Advanced Engineering Show

FARO UK will be exhibiting the company’s range of innovative products at the Advanced Engineering Show, to be held at the NEC, Birmingham, on 4th and 5th  November, 2015.

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The annual Advanced Engineering Show is the UK’s is the must-attend event where the supply chain meet with visiting engineering & procurement decision makers.
FARO UK staff we will proving how quality improvements and time savings can be achieved by the use of FARO portable 3D measurement equipment.

FARO will be presenting a wide range of cutting-edge metrology products such as the  FARO Edge with touchscreen computer for basic measurements and the FARO Laser ScanArm HD LLP featuring the lightest laser line probe for non-contact measurements. Also being demonstrated will be the FARO Gage with barcode scanner, as well as the FARO Laser Tracker Vantage for large volume measurements.

Date: 4 – 5th November 2015
Location: NEC, Birmingham

Read more

Oct
12
2015

FARO @ The Future of BIM: Looking beyond 2016

FARO UK will be attending the The Future of BIM: Looking beyond 2016 conference. This conference will provide an industry update of the BIM Level 2 adoption in the UK construction industry.
Guests should gain knowledge of where the industry is at the present moment and providing strategies to improve efficiency and minimising waste within the construction industry. Some of the products related to this include the FARO Laser Scanner which have contributed to the handling of project data and data capture.

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The event will take place on Thursday 3rd December 2015 in Euston, London.
Tickets for the event are £325.

Speaker will include:
Martin Simpson – Associate Director at Arup (Chair)
Dr Arto Kiviniemi – Professor of Digital Architectural Design, University of Liverpool
Elahe Gholami – Researcher, Building Research Establishment
Click here for more details

 

Oct
09
2015

Integrating Digital Technologies into Construction Workflows

We invite you to join us on a FARO Event, supported by the BAM construction and hosted by Bespoke careers.This is also in association with Digital Construction Week.

This will take place on the 19th of October at the Bespoke London office in St Johns Square.
Visitors will be able to hear from our two speakers Mark Taylor from BAM and Chris Palmer fom FARO. Mark is responsible for implementation of Information Management processes and digital construction tools nationally for BAM Construct UK. Chris Palmer is a RICS Chartered Building Surveyor who specialises in 3D Data capture and BIM. Over the last 10 years, Chris has worked within the construction industry as a surveyor, architectural designer and project manager, working as a lead consultant on a diverse range of project types and values

 

 

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Location: 58 St Johns Square
Time: 18:30 – 20:30

On the agenda for the speakers include;
Integrating Digital Technologies into Construction Workflows – An overview of how BAM Construction integrate digital information and technologies into traditional design and construction workflows

Laser Scanning for Construction Verification- A look at projects involving the FARO Laser Scanner and how throughout the construction process it could improve the reliability and accuracy of measurements

Automated Modelling and Feature Extraction from Point Clouds – Also a topic of conversation is a live deomonstration of the FARO 3D Software tools and how it could automatically generate 3D geometry from laser scan data.

To Register click here

 

bespoke

Sep
15
2015

FARO @ Tank Storage 2015

TSA’s Conference and Exhibition is the UK’s leading event for the bulk liquid storage sector. It is the must-attend event of the year for all those who work in the fuels, chemicals, edible oils and fats storage industries.

The event has a proven track record of successfully bringing together people who care about safe and effective bulk liquid storage operations.

The next annual one day event will be held on Thursday 15 October 2015 at the E.On Lounge of the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. The venue, which is located less than a mile from junction 3 of the M6, is just a 70 minute journey by train from London and is close to Birmingham International Airport.

Tank storage 2015

The conference programme will feature presentations from the COMAH Competent Authority and industry experts on topics which are of key interest to those who operate and maintain bulk liquid storage terminals.

FARO will be showcasing the company’s, high speed FARO Focus3D Laser Scanner3D and the recently launched FARO Scanner Freestyle 3D

For more information click here!

Aug
28
2015

FARO @ GTMA – Make Measurement Matter

FARO UK invites you the GTMA – Make Measurement Matter event. The MMM event is a focal point for technology transfer from the science of measurement into the most demanding manufacturing environments. With keynote speakers from industry-leading ‘blue chip’ manufacturing companies, and over 45 of the country’s leading Metrology specialists,

MMM 2015, taking place on the 15th of October, provides an opportunity for you to learn more about the very latest measurement and inspection technologies and services available; knowledge that could provide a vital competitive edge.”

We will present our cutting-edge metrology products such the FARO Edge with touchscreen computer for basic measurements, FARO Laser ScanArm HD with the lightest laser line probe for non-contact measurements, the FARO Gage with barcode scanner, as well as the brand new FARO Laser Tracker Vantage for large volume measurements.

The 2015 Roadshow will be held at Kettering Conference centre, this is a free to attend event and registration is now open. Click here for more details!

GTMA _ MMM

 

Aug
25
2015

FARO @ Offshore Europe 2015 – Aberdeen

FARO UK invites you to the Offshore Europe Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition which is one of the leading global technical conferences and exhibitions for the upstream E&P industry.

The event takes place in Aberdeen from 8th till 11th September 2015. We will present the our cutting-edge metrology products: the FARO Edge with the lightest and smallest laser line probe and touchscreen computer for basic measurements, the FARO Gage with the barcode scanner, the revolutionary FARO Laser Scanner Focus3D, as well as the lastest FARO Laser Tracker Vantage for large volume measurements. In addition we will show our recently launched FARO Freestyle3D handheld laser scanner and the FARO Edge ScanArm HD with new LLP to scan challenging materials with high speed and high-definition data clarity.

To register visit the official exhibitor website.

Offshore Aberdeen

Aug
06
2015

FARO @ Northern Manufacturing

Northern Manufacturing & Electronics is the largest exhibition dedicated to serving the needs of manufacturing and electronics industries in the North of England. Event City, Manchester, makes the show easily accessible to visitors from the North.

Make the Northern Manufacturing & Electronics Exhibition 2015 a firm date in your diary to discover and evaluate quality Northern and UK suppliers who can help you redesign and pioneer new products, increase productivity and improve your profit margin. When it comes to sourcing and investigating emerging technologies locally, you won’t find a more comprehensive display of precision engineering products, materials, components and state of the art manufacturing processes.

Northen manufacturing 2015 - Manchester

The event takes place in Manchester at the Event City from 30th September till 1st October 2015. We will present our cutting-edge metrology products such the FARO Edge with touchscreen computer for basic measurements, FARO Laser ScanArm HD with the lightest laser line probe for non-contact measurements, the FARO Gage with barcode scanner, as well as the brand new FARO Laser Tracker Vantage for large volume measurements.

To find out if there is a FARO event near you then check out our other FARO Events!



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