Towards FreeCAD experimentations and validation as a FOSS HBIM platform for building archaeology purposes
Filippo Diara is a specialized archaeologist and PhD in Architectural and Landscape Heritage (ICAR/06 - Topography and Cartography), Politecnico di Torino. His research activity is about documentation of Cultural Heritage assets, especially 3D modelling and open source HBIM solutions applied to archaeology and building archaeology. He is the author of scientific papers both in national and international reviewed journals (?) as well as short novels. From 2018 He is Teaching Assistant of GIS and Modelling for Cultural Heritage at Politecnico di Torino and from 2020 He is Research Fellow and Management Assistant for the ERAMCA project.
Fulvio Rinaudo is Full Professor of Geomatics at DAD Dept. (Politecnico di Torino). Ph.D. in Geodetic and cartographic Sciences, he is author of more than 260 papers and develops his research activity in the domain of digital photogrammetry and the applications of Geomatics for Cultural Heritage documentation. Chair of the ISPRS’s WGII/8, member of the CIPA Executive Bureau, co-editor of the reviews Applied Geomatics and Virtual Archaeology, scientific responsible of the Laboratory of Geomatics for Cultural Heritage (POLITO). He teaches GIS and Modelling for Cultural Heritage at POLITO, ARCHDOC course at Catholic University of Leuven and Land Surveying at the Turin Tashkent Polytechnic University.
How far the willingness to achieve specific research goals can drive us into non-conventional strategies? Every day we have to make important methodological choices about scientific and sensitive data, also making compromises. In this sense, the point is always minding the goal of the research, avoiding the use of specific innovative technologies / methodologies / software just for fashion and thinking responsibly depending on resources we spend and data we produce.
In this sense, BIM (Building Information Modelling) methodology – which has become a standard and a mandatory solution for AEC industry (Architecture Engineering Construction) – is recently spreading more and more inside the Cultural Heritage panorama due to its possibilities through three-dimensional databases, related information, queries as well as integration between different kinds of data and professional figures involved. However, the adoption of BIM methodology for Cultural Heritage assets – becoming HBIM (Historic Building Information Modelling) as well as modifying the main workflow (BIM, referring to new constructions is placed at the beginning of the life-cycle of the building; HBIM should be intended as the knowledge of the historical building and then it takes place in a specific life-cycle moment) – is affected by different compromises and issues, especially referred to the software used, mostly designed for AEC industry that rarely fit with Cultural Heritage domain (e.g Autodesk Revit).
This reasoning brings researchers to run into the accuracy and reliable issue of the commercial BIM solutions towards free / libre and open source (FOSS / FLOSS) BIM software, especially for Heritage assets, and the utilization of FOSS BIM solutions for Cultural Heritage domain apart from being a milestone could be also considered a real challenge as well as a watershed. In fact, an unconventional but fitting and good solution to guarantee Heritage data usability, accessibility, transparency and customizable opportunity could be provided by FOSS BIM software thanks to source code accessibility and modifications possibilities, adapting software to Cultural Heritage needs and not the opposite. So, HBIM methodology is changing the way to produce and investigate Cultural Heritage documentation, at the same time FOSS / FLOSS solutions are changing the general view as well as possibilities of BIM and HBIM methodology, but how does this happen?
FOSS solutions are becoming more and more fundamental and reliable as far as archaeology and in general Cultural Heritage documentation are concerned: in fact, archaeological domain can rely on open source full operative system as ArcheOS based on GNU/Linux; regarding 3D modelling, Blender FOSS software has demonstrated over the years to be as precise as reliable; at the same time QGIS (Quantum GIS) has proved to be an essential solution for geospatial analyses especially concerning Cultural Heritage assets as well as the most widely used GIS platform; moreover, the utilization of the FOSS photogrammetric suite MicMac has grown outrageously, proving itself equal to others commercial software. Then, FreeCAD FOSS / FLOSS software, through its possibilities, could be equally important as CAD and BIM / HBIM solutions , taking part of this FOSS ecosystem.
Despite HBIM methodology has the potential to become a good answer for building archaeology documentation and analysis, by using ad-hoc and customized FOSS tools as FreeCAD it could become the proper and fitting solution overcoming AEC industry limitations of standard BIM software: in this sense, this project is focus on experimentations, custom modifications and adaptations of FreeCAD to building archaeology assets as HBIM custom platform for documentation and analyses (adapting custom HBIM workflows to specific needs), trying to avoid methodological compromises related to commercial BIM software as well as trying to preserve the original goals of specific research.