This post looks at two photogrammetry projects of churches: one is the chapel at Duke University and the other those found in the mapping gothic France project done by Columbia University. While both projects have impressive church buildings as their subject, and both use photogrammetric means to produce models, they differ in many ways.

In general, despite Mapping Gothic France being the larger project, there was more information readily available about the making of the Duke University Chapel project. The About page did not give much information as to how the Mapping Gothic France project was done, other than that it “builds upon a theoretical framework derived from the work of Henri Lefèbvre.” They also provide the source code on GitHub. An article in Duke Today explains that their project was done in a computer cluster program making a point cloud from 1430 photos taken in a two hour time frame. 

The stated purposes for the projects also diverge. The Duke University Chapel project’s straightforward goal is “to document the chapel at this unique point in its history” with the projected future utility of providing a model for any needed repairs. There is also the further use of this project as educational for those involved in putting it together, i.e. “to introduce photogrammetry to Duke faculty and graduate students.”

The Mapping Gothic France project, by virtue of it encompassing so many churches that were contemporaneous to one another, has the goal of providing “new ways to understand the relationship of hundreds of buildings conventionally described as ‘Gothic’ — in terms of sameness and difference, found in the forms of multiple buildings within a defined period of time and space that corresponds to the advent of the nation of France.” (from the About page on the Mapping Gothic France site). There is a much greater sense with this project that there is an underlying story as it “embraces not only the architectonic volume but also time and narrative” as it “seeks to establish linkages between the architectural space of individual buildings, geo-political space, and the social space resulting from the interaction (collaboration and conflict) between multiple agents.”

When viewing the projects, the information available is far greater with Mapping Gothic France, where one can find not only the 3D model but other information, floorpans and photos – both historic and modern. However, clicking on these other resources did not reveal any more metadata about them. With the Duke chapel, the finished 3D model is all one sees.

Skip to content