The older the city, the more secrets it contains – particularly below the modern-day street level of cities known to citizens and pedestrians. Suddenly, through radical new 3D laser scans and rendering technologies, we can see straight through the surface and down into contemporary sewers as well as ancient crypts and catacombs unlike ever before.
The Star Trek Holo-Deck might not be too far in the future after all. Using lasers to collect millions of measurements per hour (and a million times more accurate that traditional photographs), it has become possible to rapidly replicate real-life places in three dimensions – from the smallest of underground passageways, lost rooms, secret spaces and hidden places to monumental public sculptures on the scale of Mount Rushmore.
In Rome, burial chambers, chapels and tunnels that date back thousands are years are being documented in detail by archeologists, architects and computer scientists.
In newer cities, abandoned subway tunnels, deserted subterranean structures and more are likewise being recorded – a kind of video-game version of real-life urban exploration at your fingertips.
Back on the surface: this is a unique and innovative technique that will allow us to scan, store and archive ever last angle, chip and crack of historic and modern buildings for future generations (and for rebuilding if necessary). Just imagine: when 3D printing catches up with these tools we will be able to reconstruct bombed-out buildings to within a millimeter of the original – or duplicate them simply to have a spare!
“So precise are these digital models that they can be used not only to facilitate much needed restoration work of deteriorating monuments but also to recreate them if they are completely destroyed by natural or man-made disasters,” writes BLDBLOG. “In other words, if the Bamiyan Buddhas had been laser scanned before they were obliterated by the Taliban, they could now be reconstructed with unbelievable accuracy.”