Using a method called 3D mapping, a real-world object can be profiled into the three dimensions of x, y, and z. The object’s elevation and location were the only details on older maps, making it challenging to identify the appropriate scales for the building models in the area. The addition of a third dimension led to an increase in terrestrial data visualization. Additionally, there are now more potential uses than ever before. This method has proven particularly useful when restoring historic structures because it offers information on the building’s current state and aids in developing practical management strategies.


There are many ways by which anyone can provide a 3D profile to objects, for example, 3D projection mapping in which, instead of the screen, the mapping is done with the help of projections on natural spaces, also known as video mapping. Software like AutoCAD is often used for it. The second way of 3D mapping is 3D GIS mapping, which refers to the generation of 3D using spatial software. It is used for studying and integrating maps for urban planning, earth science and disaster management.

Drones are often used for documenting and 3D mapping and rely on aerial imagery through uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs). Therefore this process is also known as aerial photogrammetry. It turns 2D maps into 3D profiles using software (such as Pix4D, Dji Terra, and Global Mapper) to transform the 2D pictures that drones collect into 3D representations. Digital elevation models, or raster images of the earth’s surface, are one of the other techniques for 3D mapping. It relies remotely on the data provided by drones, aircraft or satellites. 

3D Mapping for Heritage Sites

The analysis, documenting, cataloguing, restoration, and protection of cultural heritage objects all require a reality-based survey, which is where 3D mapping comes into play. As soon as a building’s construction is finished, it is vulnerable to degeneration for various reasons, including the environment, passing time, vandalism, and many more. It is simpler to monitor the degradation and analyse the condition of buildings when they are represented in 3D maps, making it easier to choose the restoration techniques to apply. It is crucial to use 3D mapping because it provides the orthoimages necessary for managing heritage sites and meeting archaeological needs.

However, developing historic buildings was first coined in the 15th century. Whereas in the 19th century, landmark buildings were referred to as the buildings that shall be protected. In the 1960s, historic buildings were referred to as buildings of great historical value and depicted the culture of the surroundings. In present times, historic monuments withhold great importance and represent all of the architectural heritages. There are three essential points that the historical buildings represent: stories that it carries from the time it was built, the political background and the culture of that time.

Change in time: 3d mapping of heritage buildings - Sheet1
Basic goals and framework of research on digital preservation of historical buildings._©

As it relates to many industries, including healthcare, education, and construction, digital technology is now widely used to maintain historic structures. The analysis of historical systems using technology through a sequence of image acquisition and reorganisation can be done to safeguard them. Virtual reality, 3D scanning, and real-time interactive technology are also utilised (like LIDER). Technology has several advantages over conventional methods of building protection, including the ability to collect data accurately and efficiently, as well as the ability to improve the restoration process.

Traditional restoration or maintenance methods can be subjective and prone to human error because they call for specialists and technicians to make judgement calls. However, 3D mapping can help exhibit details about ancient structures, and real-world interactive technology allows us to see the current situation more deeply. Under the Department of Archeology and Museums, Government of Karnataka, 125 monuments in India dispersed throughout eight districts in the southern part of Karnataka are being mapped into a 3D reproduction in 2021.

Chennakeshava temple in Marale in Chikkamagaluru_©

Monuments like Chennakeshava temple in Marale in Chikkamagaluru, Yoga Narasimhaswamy Temple, Rayagopura, Kalyani and Narayanswamy temple in Melukote in Mandya district, sriranagapatna fort, Gomateshwara statue at Gommatagiri, wellington lodge in Mysuru district, lushington bridge at Sathegala, Srirangapatana Fort, Halebidu in Hassan, Sri Ananthapadmanabhaswamy temple at Belle in Udupi, Raja’s tomb in Madikeri and Durgaparameshwari temple at Balpa in Sullia taluk of Dakshina Kannada district were being mapped in the project. 

The project for 3D mapping was taken under by the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST). The project entailed 844 monuments that would be mapped in 3D, but by now, only 125 are being mapped. As this will be effective in better conservation and protection of the monuments there, the data will also help provide data for future references and studies. This data that is mapped in 3D will also prove helpful in completely restoring the heritage site and buildings, as it would provide an accurate picture of the deranged areas.



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Image Sources:

He, S., Wu, W., & Wang, X. (2022). Digital protection of historic buildings in urban planning. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2022, 3549769.

Kesava Temple (1130 A.D), Marle, Chikkamagalur Taluk, Chikmagalur District. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2022, from


Priyanka garg, born and raised in Delhi is a student who has developed interest in architecture. She likes writing, reading and designing. Also, she has a key interest in sustainable and eco-friendly measures for design and construction to make the world a better place to live.