Improving the Knowledge and Management of the Historical Built Environment with BIM and Ontologies: The Case Study of the Book Tower

  • Di Mascio, D. (Speaker)
  • Pieter Pauwels (Speaker)
  • Ronald De Meyer (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


The historical built environment is acknowledged as a valuable material and cultural resource that needs to be preserved. Usually, however, there are difficulties that do not allow to effectively analyze and document it. Difficulties arising from building characteristics (e.g. irregular shape), site characteristics (e.g. particular natural or artificial context) or other exceptional events (e.g. natural disasters) make it impossible to use only traditional theories, tools and techniques. On the contrary, digital technologies give the opportunity to improve and expand the comprehension of complex artifacts. The objective of our research is to elaborate and propose a theoretical and methodological framework to improve the comprehension and management of the historical built environment with digital technologies. The recorded information can be essential to plan and manage a recovery plan and/or a maintenance program taking into consideration also aspects linked to cultural diversity and
environmental sustainability. In this paper we will deal mainly with the constructive and relational characteristics of historical buildings. The constructive characteristics point out the constructive system of an artifact (number, type and material of technical elements, etc.), whilst the relational characteristics represent the relations among the internal components of the artifact and other external elements that could be of various kind (persons, places, etc.). To analyze and document these characteristics we used mainly Building Information Management (BIM) software (Revit) and an ontology editor (TopBraid Composer). Revit was used for the digital 3D reconstruction
and TopBraid Composer was used to represent and organize the relational characteristics. Both were applied to a case study: the Book Tower in Ghent, Belgium. This is one of the most important historical (20th century) buildings
in the city of Ghent. Through the paper we will show the methodology we used, the issues we tackled and possible future developments.
Period30 Oct 2013
Event title13th International Conference on Construction Applications of Virtual Reality
Event typeConference
Conference number13
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational