Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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A Smart Heritage System to Re-Generate New Zealand’s 19th Century Timber Churches

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posted on 2021-10-29, 03:16 authored by Andre BrownAndre Brown, sam Mclennan
This article describes a Smart Heritage computational system that automatically produces a wide range of design proposals for new timber Gothic churches based on an intelligent interpretation of an architectural database of historic churches. The system enlists the software ‘Houdini’ and a digitally archived dataset of 19th Century timber Gothic churches. The cases presented here focus primarily on timber churches built in Wellington, New Zealand. Through a process of analysis and deconstruction of these historic churches into their characteristic architectural components, spatial organisation and geometric relationships, the system assembles them into novel designs based on high-level design parameters. This paper details this computational system, its development, its operation and its outputs. The role of the system that has been developed is two-fold. One is designing in an architectural heritage context, and one is as an aid to historical architectural investigations, or what can be called digital forensics. The particular outputs are automatically generated hybrid churches that capture the historical design values and complexities of Gothic inspired churches in New Zealand. However, the broader applications are as an investigative tool for historians, and as an objective generative tool for those involved in heritage reconstruction.


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Brown, A. & Mclennan, S. (2021). A Smart Heritage System to Re-Generate New Zealand’s 19th Century Timber Churches. Heritage.

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