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Huế uses 3D tech to conserve its relics

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THỪA THIÊN-HUẾ — The former imperial city of Huế is applying 3D technology in conservation in an attempt to more accurately restore the structures built by the Nguyễn Dynasty (1802-1945).

According to the Huế Monuments Conservation Centre, a local government body that manages all relics related to the dynasty, the pilot project will be used for two relic sites – the An Định Palace and the mausoleum designated for the dynasty’s fourth king Tự Đức.

The centre is working with CyArk and Seagate Technology PLC, two partners from the US, to undertake the work.

CyArk, headquartered in Oakland, California, is a non-profit organisation founded in 2003 that works in digitally recording, archiving and sharing global cultural heritage. It has recorded over 200 monuments in 40 countries around the world.

Seagate Technology, headquartered in Cupertino, California, is an expert in data storage.

Phan Thanh Hải, the centre’s director said the results of the project would be processed and stored to create 3D models of the relics. “Those would be helpful for the research and restoration of the relics in terms of architectural accuracy,” he said.

“The project is also significant in raising awareness on the values of world cultural heritage as well as conservation work.”

Beginning in June following a decision by the local government of Thừa Thiên-Huế Province, staff from CyArk have captured photos of the relics, using drones and lidar.

In the next step, CyArk will use the photos to create 3D models and plans for the conservation centre.

According to John Risterski of CyArk, the organisation was honoured to be working on the conservation of Tự Đức Mausoleum, which is an important complex in the city’s heritage system.

The data would also be used to create virtual reality tours for visitors to the sites.

Since 2003, CyArk has succeeded with similar projects at the holy Thai temple Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the Cambodian temple complex Angkor Wat, and Australia’s Sydney Opera House.

An Định Palace and Tự Đức Mausoleum are both listed as part of the Huế complex of monuments recognised as a world cultural heritage by the UN cultural agency UNESCO in 1993.

Originally, An Định was a separate palace built on the southern bank of the Hương (Perfume) River for the prince who later became Khải Định (1916-1925), the 12th king of the dynasty. It was later the home for the king’s mother Từ Cung.

Today it is a popular site for visitors, and is famous for its murals.

Tự Đức Mausoleum, located on a hill near the riverbank, is one of the most beautiful of its kind in the city. The mausoleum was designed in harmony with nature and the natural topography of the hill.

Tự Đức (1847-83), who was the fourth king of the dynasty and had no son, built the mausoleum for himself. This was in contrast to other kings, whose resting places were built by their sons after their deaths as a form of memorial.

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