I recently wrote a guest blog post for Sketchfab on my methods for recreating built heritage using archives, Blender 3D software and some heritage interpretation. Many thanks to the Sketchfab Cultural Heritage Lead Tom Flynn and the team! 🙂
Last year I was very fortunate to be invited to The National Archives (TNA) in Kew to feature in their Archives Inspire video (above), filmed by the wonderful Magneto Films.
It was a privilege to be filmed alongside the other cast who are all brilliant professionals and it was lovely to revisit TNA after spending a year as one of their Transforming Archives Trainee‘s. The Magneto team were very professional, especially as it was my 1st attempt at being in front of a rather large camera!
Archives Inspire is a four year campaign looking at new ways audiences can experience and use archives- have a look at TNA’s Chief Executive Jeff James’ blog post and the Archives Inspire pages on TNA’s website for more.
Digital is an interesting challenge for the archives sector, where records being produced are increasingly in the digital format (think from large organisation’s records to personal photographs). Over the past decade Archivists have been thinking about how to preserve digital media for accountability, evidential, cultural and research purposes. At present, digital is now becoming central to the archival profession as we hope to preserve these records and facilitate access.
I am particularly interested in the creative uses of archives, especially heritage engagement using 3D models, websites, online exhibitions and videogames. I was very honoured to be able to showcase some of my 3D work in TNA’s Archives Inspire video- you can see my North Bar (Beverley) model in the video showcased using the software Blender 3D. Very grateful that something I’ve been doing for over 5 years is being featured in such an important video.
It has been a Blender-filled Easter weekend where I set myself the challenge to 3D model my own interpretation of Hull’s Beverley Gate in the 17th century- see my first post!
After many hours of tweaking settings, I’m now at the stage where I’m happy enough to share it…
There is always much room for improvement in the modelling process. As an architectural historian my focus is mainly on the building fabric, plan and style but my scenes are devoid from human population for the ‘uncanny valley’ reason. Charles I being refused entry into the city by the Hothams would provide more of a historical context to the scene but it will add many more hours of modelling and research.
The interpretation was created using archival and local studies material held at the East Riding Archives and the Hull History Centre. A publication which provided particularly helpful information was “Beverley gate, the birthplace of the English Civil War” (1990) by David Evans and Bryan Sitch, featuring a line drawing interpretation which this 3D model is mostly based on- including the Dutch architectural influence, gables and structural form of the two guard chambers.
Beverley Gate has a fascinating story and is one of high historical significance. On the 23rd April 1642, the gate was the location where Hull’s Governor, John Hotham, and his son (also named John Hotham) refused Charles I entry into the city- as a result being one of the catalystic moments of the English Civil War (and the subsequent executions of the Hotham father and son). It is a well-known story and gives the site national importance.
Using Blender, my latest visualisation of Beverley Gate will be based on both artist impressions, archival and secondary source material, held at the Hull History Centre, Hull Museums and the East Riding Archives. I’m aiming to digitally model the gate as it was in 1642- this means it will be a complete architectural structure and not the romanticised version which you can see in George Arnald’s lovely painting “Charles I Demanding Entrance at the Beverley Gate, Hull“, c1819- though I’d love to model this version too!
So far I have modelled the main gate structure, drawbridge and surrounding landscape. The next step will be texturing, finishing touches and hopefully being able to upload the model onto my Sketchfab account- more posts to follow!
As the Hotham house in Beverley, East Yorkshire was demolished over 200 years ago I thought I would carry out some 3D visualisation work on what the building may have looked like in the 18th Century based on the 1715 architectural design.
You may have heard of Sir John Hotham (1st Baronet), who in 1642 refused Charles I of England entry to Kingston Upon Hull, and as a result, contributing to the beginnings of the English Civil War. Over half a century later a member of his extended family, Charles Hotham (4th Baronet), built a grand classical house down Eastgate in the nearby town of Beverley. It was designed by the renowned Georgian architect Colen Campbell who is credited as the founder of the style.
Hotham purchased and demolished several properties down the East side of Eastgate to build his new home (East Riding Archives DDBC/16/67). Built between 1716-1721, the neo-Palladian house was intended to be a family home yet the house remained empty after Charles’ death in January 1723 and was demolished after 50 years.
Creating the Model in Blender: I modelled the front facade of the Hotham house with as much accuracy to Colen Campbell’s elevation drawing in his published work Vitruvius Britannicus (1715). As with most visualisation works, some interpretation had to be made when thinking about the window styles, doorway and material colour.
Campbell does not make clear which building materials were used. Records show that Hotham purchased local red bricks for the building (Hull University Archives, DDHO/15/4) yet Campbell’s design is absent of brickwork. I decided to texture the facade with a stucco-material as this possibly would have been applied on top of the brick surface. Stucco is also a key characteristic of classical architecture.
The symmetrical nature of neo-Palladian architecture meant that Blender’s mirror modifier tool came in handy, saving a lot of modelling time! It would have been useful if Campbell had drawn side elevations, so to interpret the scale of the side facades I used the accompanying ground plan to model an appropriate measurement based on proportions.
William Burrow’s 1747 map of Beverley shows the Eastgate location of the house fronted by a possible semicircular courtyard. Modelling the surrounding gardens and wider environment would be the next challenge to progress this model. This brings to light new questions relating to what the surrounding 18th-century Beverley landscape looked like, research into the garden design of the house and whether to populate the visualisation with people.
I was very excited to play a part in the planning and facilitating of the Hull History Centre’s two recent Bring Your Own Device Minecraft workshops (14th & 21st August 2015).
Participants were invited to the History Centre with their laptops and tablets to recreate Hull’s historical architecture in the creative sandbox game Minecraft. During the events, participants received advice from the History Centre team and shared their work with others- we all had lots of fun exploring Hull’s architectural history in the home of Hull’s written heritage itself!
With my background in architectural history I was keen to get participants engaged with Hull’s wide variety of historical buildings- a topic I’m personally very excited about! I delved into the History Centre’s strongrooms to dig out interesting (and hopefully inspiring) old photographs and architectural plans for participants to recreate and then digitised these for use on learning handouts. The learning handouts included facts, dates, architectural styles, photos, plans- and even a Minecraft character dressed from the period!
The buildings chosen were:
Hull’s medieval fortifications
King Henry VIII’s Hull Castle
Hull City Hall
Dock Offices / Hull Maritime Museum
St Stephen’s Church
Lord Line building at St Andrew’s Quay
From medieval to georgian, neo-classical to gothic, I was particularly interested in seeing how our participants would engage with the archival material and which ones would keep them most interested. We had our clear favourites- Hull City Hall due to it’s familiarity, and Hull’s medieval fortifications (such as Beverley Gate and Hessle Gate).
We even held a “best screenshot” competition where building entries were judged by Hull History Centre archivists on effort and likeness to the original.
It was great to see so many participants come to the events, approximately 30 in each session! I particularly enjoyed the social, community feel, especially with participants sharing their builds and Minecraft tips and tricks. We will hopefully see everyone return to the History Centre in the future! Have a look at the History Centre’s fascinating variety of events to see what’s on offer!
UPCOMING: In the next few days you will be able to see more information on the events as a whole and see our competition winners on my upcoming History Centre blog post….
Enjoy a tour of our Minecrafter’s work: I recorded the entirety of the in-game footage from the second session and created a video to showcase some of the brilliant work by our Minecrafters. I hope you are as amazed as what we were by the quality of the work, well done to all our participants!