'A sustainable re-construction method for seismic-prone heritage areas of India based on advanced recording technologies'

Lead Research Organisation: Nottingham Trent University
Department Name: Sch of Archit Design and Built Env


Buildings and public spaces in seismic-prone heritage areas are in constant risk of damage so their physical preservation implies continuous intervention. Despite the recurrence of earthquakes, responses are usually triggered afterwards, lacking mitigation strategies to diminish risks. Focusing on housing in heritage areas, emergency actions, long delays, poor repairs (if any), uncritical replication, and the impossibility to assess and respond to all affected buildings have characterised governmental reconstruction approaches in recent years in Chile (Devilat 2013)-yet not limited to that country.
After earthquakes, heritage is not often a priority and is usually left in stand-by mode until specific solutions are developed. This may take several years, as occurred with the historic centre of L'Aquila after the 2009 earthquake; the heritage area of Amandola after the 2016 earthquake - both in Italy; or Zuñiga after the 2010 earthquake in Chile. After the 1993 and 2001 earthquakes, some heritage villages in India were completely relocated (Jigyasu 2002). All of this led to a displaced population, a key issue to avoid after a disaster (Boano, Zetter and Morris 2010).
Damaged dwellings cannot be immediately reinforced to continue inhabitation; generating disruption. If buildings are repairable, the costs are high due to the difficulty to work with the existing remains. Large numbers of affected constructions make damage assessment difficult, impacting in slow and sometimes out-of-context responses.
This proposal will tackle these issues by developing a sustainable approach based on 3D laser scanning, named as re-construction (Devilat 2013). She makes the distinction between reconstruction, understood as current strategies of replication 'as before' with re-construction, which she understands as to build again, as a step forward, respectful to the past but adaptable to ever-changing social, cultural and physical contexts.
3D laser scanning or LiDAR is a cutting-edge recording technology that captures the environment in one of the most accurate, fast and comprehensive ways currently possible, resulting in a digital, measurable coloured point-cloud with a precision of millimetres. Once the digital model of reality is obtained, it will offer the basis to achieve the research objectives.
Re-using buildings is a sustainable mode of preservation. In seismic countries, constant maintenance could increase their resistance with smaller funding than of building anew. However, there is a knowledge gap in the tools available for rehabilitation in comparison with those available for new constructions (Pereira-Roders and Brand 2006), and more specifically, when trying to integrate the inhabitants and relevant stakeholders.
This proposal is novel at five levels. First, by using a context of constant change resulting from earthquakes. Second, by focusing on housing instead of monumental heritage, representative of inhabitants' way of living as well as the character of heritage areas, and usually the most affected after earthquakes due to lack of maintenance. Third, by introducing technology to heritage conservation principles and the humanitarian sphere. Fourth, by extending 3D laser scanning as an effective surveying tool for a complete heritage area. Fifth, by establishing a user-led digital platform for conservation.
The research will bring together the expertise on technology and re-construction of heritage areas through its PI Dr Devilat; state-of-the-art 3D laser scanning equipment from the CAUGH-NTU and knowledge on virtual heritage from Prof. Abdelmonem as Co-I; the specific knowledge of heritage in India of Dr Desai from CEPT CRDF; the Indian earthquake's expertise of Dr Jigyasu and platform for international dissemination and impact from his institution ICCROM; the local network and support for community participation of Hunnarshala as Project Partner in India; and the architectural knowledge of Dr Lanuza, Research Fellow.


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