Sandro Parrinello (Florence, Italy)
Documentation of wooden architecture in Kizhi Island VkontakteFacebook


The activities of documentation promoted by the University of Florence on the Karelian territory are included in an international study program, developed with an agreement between the Department of Architecture, Design, History, Project of the University of Florence and the University of Petrozavodsk, whose responsible and promoter is Prof. Stefano Bertocci.

The workshop that took place in Kizhi island museum, that is one of the sites in the UNESCO list considered part of world heritage, consisted in an investigation campaign whose objective was to define the environmental elements that could be useful for the enhancement of the museum system.

The campaign included the survey and documentation of the historical wooden architectures located in the area, and the elaboration of representative systems of detail that could specifically define the condition of degradation and conservation of these architectures.

Through the use of 3D laser scanner we were able to conduct surveys on monumental buildings and rural contexts in order to develop descriptive systems useful for the management and enhancement of these sites.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

Keywords: Architecture, wood, Karelia, Kizhi, survey, laser scanner.

1. Forward

Experiences in the scientific field performed within our study led to the perfecting of operating methods for surveying the wooden architecture, entailing investigations aimed at its correct interpretation, essential tools for a critical appraisal and careful assessment of the conservation and restoration work done.

A valorisation strategy of cultural heritage which is up to date in the objectives, strategies and policies put into effect cannot fail to be based on a solid and up to date knowledge of the heritage in question; in fact whatever intervention policy is chosen it is clear that a thorough acquisition of the cognitive data plays a key role in any subsequent decision–making and that a strategy of in-depth knowledge is the essential premise for any plans for safeguarding and valorising such assets.

The documentation aspect becomes even more crucial if the conservation policy regards both the physical, of the object, and the intangible, of the memory of historic, artistic and cultural values, which the artefact keeps alive and communicates over time.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

Decades of experience in the political, scientific and technical definition of the safeguarding of cultural heritage in Italy teach us, in fact, how the phase of cataloguing and identifying artefacts or sites has been superseded, with a leap in quality terms, activating more integrated and technologically advanced measures for the safeguarding of the artistic and cultural heritage.

The development of integrated procedures for the documentation of the artistic and cultural heritage today avails of advanced technology to perform up to date surveys focusing on the measurement, geometric, morphological and material features of the existing heritage to enable the creation of open computerised analytical systems.

A database organised by interrelating the considerable wealth of three dimensional co–ordinates and qualitative data on the surroundings and the architectural or artistic artefacts, can be read at an infinite number of levels which are not necessarily limited to the time aspect but which may be integrated and developed in a multidisciplinary approach over time.

Within this strategy, the results of surveying operations acquire a series a values:

The higher the technological level of the surveying procedures including through the use of sophisticated digital instruments and methods–the greater the need to carefully control the attribution of a meaning to the information acquired, in relation to the formal, functional, constructive and spatial significance of the object surveyed.

In this sense scientific surveying today avails of a wealth of methodological know–how and instruments as well as the description of metric, formal, spatial and material characteristics of the heritage to permit a reconstruction of the historic development of the artefact and the place, reflect the chronological phases, ascertain the formal features, recording any anomalies or static criticality – in brief, capturing its spirit.

2. The scientific survey as introductition to the analysis of the context

“Happiness is drawing. I would like the readers, whom take care about my story and my fate, to keep always in mind these two factors as a starting point of my world.” (Orhan Pamuk).

The surveying of architecture is an area of study which has had varying connotations over time, specifically linked to the culture and technical–scientific knowledge of each historic period. Each type of architecture is generally composed of a universe of data, spaces and volumes. Colours, materials, planes, light and shade and is usually a structure having a meaning for those using and living in it, made up of signs which in some way recall other signs; the product of a specific culture suggesting metaphors, analogies, comparisons putting abstract ideas and concepts into concrete form in a certain sense.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

The product of the surveying operations constitutes an ordered set of data produced by investigation and discretisation, a job requiring knowledge, interpretation, selection and organisation the final product which consists of transmitting descriptive mental models, graphics or whatever else is deemed helpful to transmit the knowledge acquired.

Every shape, object, artefact, or more generally all the things that are not such as we see them in nature, are the result of a process of synthesis (survey) and project (restitution) of the environment and the system in which, as Norberg Schultz says, the man travels as a nomad, to gather items and put them into architecture.

The activity of the surveyor is realised through operative methods defined by a cognitive model that contemplates, in advance, the creation of a model of shared inquiry, which may also be updated, modified and further defined during the deepening of the work itself.

All operations and used strategies of knowledge are aimed at general default.

The modalities for taking the measures, the sample taking and the hierarchy and organization of data must be used to configure the final work product in a manner consistent with the model investigation default.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

The survey is therefore an information system that consists of data that can be structured in an organised system, dictated by specific choices and aims.

From what above assumptions it follows that the survey takes shape as aimed and thematic operation. This type of work is often characterised as a preparatory and complementary phase to the design interventions and as fundamental work useful for studies which are often placed in contiguous areas (census, restoration, archaeological surveys, geo–gnostic, chemical and physical investigations and so on).

Therefore it can be considered relevant to the surveyor’s activity any strategy for representation and communication that records an architecture, a city or a territory, but also the product of any cultural activity, transformed into scripts, mostly graphical or in any case descriptive, with any degree of approximation. In particular the documentation and the collection of information are an integral part of these activities.

These are not just metrics, but gained through usual techniques and experience and through the application of innovative processes, which have the characteristic of allowing a relatively quick and synthetic read which can be carried out at the different levels of the complex that will be observed.

The survey and the strategies’ complex used for this purpose is thus a privileged instrument for the critical knowledge and in–depth of spatial and cultural values of architecture in general.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

3. Model: the hyper real as a new model for the real

The potential of virtual technologies lies in the possibility of experimenting at popular and research levels, specific scenarios, which would not otherwise be accessible. Any environment may in fact be reconstructed down to the smallest detail, replicating materials and effects, to then be visited and provide significant support to teaching and cultural activities.

Hyper–realistic simulations make it easier to understand the subject of study and thus supplement the traditional material available.

Three–dimensional representation may be a valid support for planners and designers, a tool to use with dexterity to supplement descriptive databases and obtain thematic representations and three–dimensional reproductions, with images or film clips directly connected to the geometry of the territory and atmosphere of the place.

The use of 3D models, starting directly from GIS data, offers an opportunity to verify, in real time, all the project choices or planning operations hypothesised through full immersion situations.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

As well as the classic representation of a city or specific area, virtual IT systems thus enable a simulation of their evaluation in space–time, showing how the predefined elements present have changed over time. The interpretation and analysis of the transformations or adaptations occurring in the course of the subsequent historic thresholds, of an urban area or building is today common practice in studies and surveys: the ability to represent information at various levels and to use it by superimposition and cross–reference permits use of the IT system as a powerful analysis tool and if one adds the possibilities offered by the use of the third dimension, the interpretation of such is immediately easier and more comprehensible.

Various types of application use the visualisation of virtual models and 3D animation, especially when particularly complex situations need to be reproduced.

This is even more evident in the case of territorial representation where the level of detail provided by 3D simulations is irreplaceable.

The efficacy of an instrument which, as well as representing an environment, makes it possible to move around freely within it and observe the details from various angles, is unarguable for planners and landscape architects who can thus verify the development of a certain phenomenon, or rather assess the impact of a planning operation on the surroundings.

It is thus essential wherever a level of detail and perfect adherence to reality is required, but not only: the hyper realistic model makes it possible to go further and build virtual environments, that is environments which do not actually exist.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

4. Drawing the hyper–real

Gathering information to reconstruct the arduous complexity of reality, appears today to be in almost total contradiction to what we constantly try to achieve in synthetic and practical analysis.

To draw and represent a realistic view, however, involves a series of operations that have a precise reference in the history of representation. They seem to cancel out the strong regulation, abstraction, essential and laconic symbol of which we are heirs to regain a new naturalism of an almost pictorial mould.

Having freed itself of the constraint of manual skill and the paradigm of the god stroke to become curt and functional, drawing now seems to abandon austere simplicity and return to the visual character as the first instance.

Digital modelling is, as it were, in continuity with the long tradition of codes, techniques and methods of representation of the academic drawing, also proposing, though with different instruments and defined by sophisticated rendering operations, graphic techniques such as watercolour and gestural art which appear revisited in terms of a photographic realism which is often the source of the astonished admiration reserved to IT mediums.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

The representation processes reproduce, in three dimensions, an extremely intuitive, dynamic visualisation of the ideal reconstruction. The direct action on the model, the large size, the maquette effect, the use of the photographic image, the movement, everything tends to suggest, in the use of these technologies, a strong sense of control over reality and a totalising manipulative power.

As the model becomes more sophisticated the visual characters too must increase, translating into a reduction of the selective function of representation, and therefore of its critical contribution to the object. The illusion of realism makes it difficult to recognise the nature and function of the simulation, feeding the constant misunderstanding of identity between the real and the model, where the apparent lack of partiality and critical function leads the “truth” being taken for granted leading, paradoxically, to the assumption of uselessness of the representative instrument.

These three–dimensional studies show, however, how the technologies of the image and information management, to the wider family of which the G. I. S. also belong, replace the visual as the centre of the known, offering the image of a sort of “global machine” that builds a virtual environment, where data and space are completely manipulated. What David Gelernter, defines a mirror world takes form, that is a world composed of spatial images; a model as realistic as indifferent, in which the real world finally appears fully captured and manipulable.

5. Vi rtual herita itage, the creatiati on of the virtual museum

A virtual museum is a collection of electronic artifacts and information resources – virtually anything which can be digitized. The collection may include paintings, drawings, photographs, diagrams, graphs, recordings, video segments, newspaper articles, transcripts of interviews, numerical databases and a host of other items which may be saved on the virtual museum’s file server. It may also offer pointers to great resources around the world relevant to the museum’s main focus.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

The technical and descriptive definition of the virtual museum by Jamie McKenzie gives us an understanding of how the general concept of this family of tools essentially develops, based on a multimedial collection of digital information accessible from the net.

The qualities of a virtual museum system must then be such as to enable this “place” to become a centre of cultural growth and exchange, sensitive therefore to interactivity – preferably dynamic – which suggests, in addition to the exchange of information contained in the instrument, a greater freedom of interface supporting the suggestion of reality.

The elimination of limitations to investigation, the immersion in the virtual world, is one of the key concepts which these systems are based on, also having the objective of multidisciplinary contents and information.

The acquired information is combined with a general multisensoriality which the interactive environment offers, in applying the formula “as real as possible”.

The information contained in the museum, even though unavoidably of an “interdisciplinary” nature, remains however properly controlled and planned, managed by a specific programme or project, and thus, targeted to specific assessment aspects of the areas of expansion of the museum it self and of the project guidelines from which the system originated.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

However crucial the interactive communication technologies, what is most important is the creative design implying their use, so as to be able to translate the interactivity into educational and playful potential. This can only happen by overcoming the technocratic logic which so often tends to prefer IT to the social–cultural inter–relations which make the communication game work. As rightly pointed out by Carlo Infante to say the word play is, in the end, anything but marginal. It is here that the ideal tension resides for bringing to life that urge which makes us seek knowledge and which will teach us how to seek it.

The multi–dimensionality developed in this model, increased by the mass of information which in a sense extend its size not just purely physically but qualitatively, together with the databases forming a sort of soul of the object, suggests a multi–temporality in the development of the museum to which a different multiple–connectivity of users making the system expressed dynamic once again, must be added.

If the physical interaction occurs with the environment, the virtual interaction only takes place within the multi–interactive area, making remote actions in relation to the context of digital information (what we see on a screen is remote compared to the space around us, but very close in terms of sensorial involvement, hence the de–territorialisation from physical to virtual space).

As a system–structure, the virtual museum becomes a cognitive space, thus increasing in meaning in relation to the context recomposed, namely the sum of information and associations which it embodies together destroy any virtual and physical limit.

It can also be understood as a constantly active nebula with relations which extends and magnify at a speed proportional to the correctness of its programming.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

In short, the cognitive contribution of the project lies in the digital immersion propaedeutic to the visit, and, even more, in the attempt to convert the virtual into a museum, that is representing multimedial architecture as works of art in a real exhibition with its own grammar rules and its own expressive language. Each architecture has its own shared area, represented by the space in which the users–visitors interact, and a connective area where multimedial information can be accessed, enhanced by the database. In relation to this area of relevance, the visitor is led to pause for a longer or shorter time, to interact with the contents, to exchange more or less collective experiences, to definitively recreate his/her own mental map according to the visual and sensory stimuli received and re–elaborated.

Entering a museum may be conceived of as participating in a “Show of Knowledge”.

For this to happen the synesthesia behind the theatrical staging: the simultaneous coexistence of different languages, needs to be recreated. The eye and the brain of the spectator will select, recreating, through the dynamising of their perception and consequent cognitive process of elaboration of the information gathered, a field of representation, a Theatre of Memory.

The concept of virtual museum attributed mainly to telematic applications to multimedia, three–dimensional reconstructions, with particular reference to representations of physical reality, may embrace contexts, works or finds scattered in the geographical space through time but also in a non–territory, ontologically encoded by the virtual itself.

The museum of the Karelian villages for example may become an interactive database of popular heritage, reconstructing, in addition to the set of cases most interesting by type present in the territory, a platform of connections to a broader context, thereby connecting the reality of local heritage to an open system.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

In practical terms with regard to the progress made up to today, the creation of a mental map for the island of Kizhi is a cognitive elaboration highly usable for most visitors.

The multi–interactive project aims to introduce a process of multi–factorial learning divided into three stages: the full immersion, the waiting, the visit. User expectations cover a phase of full immersion, not yet literate orientation, pause (with a significant rise in the attention threshold), of visit and virtual contextualisation, where, at the end of this virtual and real tour, the user may proceed to visit the village and the landscape in the manner most appropriate to the comprehension, memorisation and cultural sedimentation of the context (obviously with different nuances in relation to the different cultural backgrounds).

The virtual theme park, as a summary of the classification of a physical and cultural landscape, a bit like the Citè des Sciences de La Villette, combines the basic principle of an intelligent and fun Theme Park with that of a Museum which alongside its almost sacrosanct vocation to conservation provides a pathway innervated by interactive solutions of highly cultural value.

The dichotomy dissolves between communication and culture which some, romantically, set before popular attention towards cultural heritage, in considering the user of a museum as a spectator, profoundly observing a landscape, immersing him/herself definitively in the amazement of a place, aware, however, of experiencing only a remote part and thus encouraged to enjoy in reality the pleasures, or the real inconvenience completing his/her actual experience.

6. Museum of the territory

The Kizhi island and its landscape has been the subject of numerous studies about its preservation made by prof. Vyacheslav Orfinsky of the Petrozavodsk State University. Museums, with a functional specificity to divulge their informative contents, are containers of collective memories and icons, often considered as the instruments through which a community identifies with its territory, tangible traces of relations between human beings as well as between them and the territory in which they live.

The museums are spreading and their functions, initially destined only to a restricted amount of people, are amplifying.

Generally, they are becoming available to the same societies and groups that often, due to the evolution of historical events or the chaotic socio–economic development, jeopardized the museum’s existence.

The complexity of preparation and museum building implies cognitive and research activities, based on some studies which focus on the heritage itself represented inside the museums by multiple elements that are ordered through research activities, generally linked with a specific direction of social “marketing”.

The current strategies of preparation and museum building are oriented towards a re–examination of the past and addressed to a non–specialized public in order to answer the growing demand for less ideologised preparation and museum building.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

There is an intense bond between the disposition and, therefore, the arrangement of the elements in a place, with the consequent world of relations established between those two, and the dynamics that determine the activities and the cultural capacities of a certain museum system.

The “territory museum”, intended as socio–cultural space, serves to articulate a common conceptual data as the different themes and data around the territory result as an open museum where the objects and the themes of the exposition course are presented within the specific social context and surrounded by their original physical environment.

The aim of a museum, as well as museum didactic, is to highlight and facilitate the construction of such connections within the cultural heritage.

The preparation and museum building process implies a series of events that allow an element, or a general context, to be recognized as museum worthy; this operation often coincides with a re–qualification process.

Lately, a preventive conscience is emerging towards goods and towards the patrimony that must be safeguarded; this conscience resorts, through social organizations and institutions, preparation and museum building in order to safeguard a specific set of goods or an environment which is exposed to devaluation or de–signification.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

Therefore, structures or systems of relations are being projected in a way to be able to transform a place into a museum, focal points of cultural aggregation which sometimes transform the qualities of an environment or a territory in order to have a museum.

The object to be safeguarded is even moved to another dimension, spatial or virtual; some of its aspects are captured and transformed to allow its availability and “net–surfing”.

In order to make the information accessible, the image or the real status of the elements to be safeguarded can be manipulated; this is all probably part of the same process to conserve collective memory, as well as research and “social target or marketing”.

The extraordinary increment of information and digital technologies furthermore urgently poses new questions to research methodology, knowledge and disseminating of culture.

Exceeded then the phase of the “technological wonder”, we are at a stage where research needs to make some questioning about epistemological matters and to let advance the disciplines related to the various considered areas according to significant methodological progresses.[текст с сайта музея-заповедника "Кижи":]

All this is of great interest for the academics whom are participating to this seminar, and has much to do with our work as teachers and researchers: in particular it seems necessary to find appropriate forms of scientific knowledge transmission, within appropriate methodological frameworks, which are able to cope with the constant pressures that come from the technological evolution in an appropriate disciplinary framework.


// XVI Ежегодная международная научно-практическая конференция АДИТ–2012
Интернет-публикация 2012.

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