The Gasworks in 3D

Sudbury Gasworks Restoration Trust has worked with Nottingham Trent University and a cohort of volunteers during the restoration project. Capturing the progress at various stages and creating 3D virtual models.

Several models have been produced since the start of the project with this virtual model being the latest from early November, 2022.

Image taken from a 3d model of sudbury gasworks

Throughout the duration of the restoration project and as part of the 3D modelling surveys carried out, a large volume of photographic images along with some drone footage has accumulated which can add to the historic records being collected by the Trust.

The Trust recognised the value of having these virtual models as part of their historic records for the Gasworks restoration. The virtual model provides a dynamic medium which offers a different perspective to help public engagement as well as provide valuable visualisation of the building for more technical analysis.

How do you produce a 3D virtual model?

The process used to produce these virtual models is known as Photogrammetry. This process uses specialist software to transpose a series of overlapping 2D photographs into a virtual 3D model.

The fundamental to creating a good, detailed model is ensuring all images are in focus, correctly exposed with a reasonable depth of field and have a good proportion of overlap to its adjacent image.

Image of a drone hovering in flight

To achieve this for the model here, a drone was used to enable a total capture of all aspects of the structure including those at height. The drone flight plan was such that several sweeps around the structure was carried out at different heights. Care was taken to ensure images captured contained good overlap.The model seen here was produced using 203 images.

What happens next?

In order to make the model more accessible to a wider audience, the master virtual model has been post processed using a specialist software platform that converts the model into a web based format that enables relatively simple navigation.

Photogrammetry is gaining a wide following in the fields of recording historic artefacts, archeological sites and even recording valuable pieces of art. It is certainly recognised as a formal method of recording history by Historic England and its fellow professionals.

Interestingly, the SGRT 3D group has now been given the opportunity to get involved in other heritage projects including the Norton Disney Historic and Archeology Group, Ruffed and Southwell Historic Group and the National Stone Centre.

Maybe SGRT is ahead of this growing curve?