Richard Brook, Principal Lecturer at Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester Metropolitan University and lead researcher, said: “This idea centres on the digital preservation of our cities. Cities change, and without development cities are petrified, stultified and can become thematised versions of themselves.
“Yet development is not without its sensitivities and often involves passionate protest about preservation of buildings and heritage. Last minute attempts to save buildings under threat of demolition through the statutory listing process often falter and a usual outcome is a clause in the planning approval that an archaeological record is made.
This record may include a measured and photographic survey and cursory written reports of the cultural history of the site. Such records are hard to access and, in technological terms, are a limited means of representing lost artefacts.“They also fail to represent the cultural value and personal memories to the people and communities that experienced the buildings.
“This project imagines the creation of a model that can recreate a rich and layered version of a building and bring it to life through the collation of social, cultural, technical and visual archival sources.”
Sometimes buildings are demolished and elements that have touched the lives of its inhabitants are lost – the furniture, the pictures, the decor and the memories of the people who worked, celebrated or worshipped there. With this project we hope not to carry out just a building survey, but to capture and incorporate part of the spirit and the life of some of the people who have passed through its rooms.
University architects, historians, and computer scientists will work on ‘The Life of Buildings’, which has won funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Research and Partnership Development call for the ‘Next Generation of Immersive Experiences’.