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July 3, 2023
Designing in historical center Digitalization
  • Кузьмин Дмитрий Геннадьевич
    Заместитель председателя Комитета Совета Федерации по федеративному устройству, региональной политике, местному самоуправлению и делам Севера
  • Sergey Golubev
    General manager at the
    Association of Expert and Analytical Center of Designers "Project Portal", member
    of the Expert Council
    of the Construction Committee for Housing
    and Communal Services of the state
  • Elena Kopylova
    Rector of the Institute of Restoration Art
    Academician of the Academy of Architecture and Restoration, Professor, state expert of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation
  • Nina Shangina
    Chairman of the Council of the Union of Restorers
    St. Petersburg, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor
    "On the prospects of using digital technologies to
    improve the restoration of the OCHs "
  • Svetlana Fisser
    CEO of NPK “HydroLand”, member of the Union of Restorers of Russia
  • Ksenia Gubinskaya
    Deputy Chairman of the Committee for
    the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage of the Leningrad Region
    Associate Professor of the Department of Architectural and Urban Planning Heritage of St. Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering Member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and All-Russian society for the protection of historical and cultural monuments
  • Tatiana Kudryavtseva
    andidate of Architecture, Academician of All-Russian Non-Governmental Organization "Russian Authors' Society" (RAO), expert
    "Historical territories-21st century new systems of analytical research"
  • Vladimir Bondarenko
    Deputy Chairman of the Committee
    for the Construction of the Support of Russia.
  • Viktor Lotkin
    eputy General Director
    of “DCConsult"
Each object of cultural heritage must have a digital twin
The most effective restoration of objects located in the historical center need their digitalization. This concept was discussed at the session “Designing in the historical center: new challenges, their solution and digitalization as part of the “REBUS-2023” Forum held in Kazan. In particular, experts are convinced that a digital model of the monument, including not only the project of a specific restoration, but also the entire history of the object, and the history of previous restorations, will facilitate the work of the following generations of restorers.
The discussion was moderated by Sergey Golubev, Director General of the EADC Association Project Portal, Member of the Expert Council of the Committee for Construction, Housing and Communal Services of the State Duma, Member of the Digital Transformation Section of the Construction Complex, Housing and Utilities of the Federation Council. He proposed to discuss topical problems of restoration, reconstruction and development in the area of the objects of historical and cultural heritage location.
- The topic is quite relevant today. Much attention is paid to the discussion of this issue both at the site of the expert council of the State Duma, and in the relevant ministries of culture and construction. But no one will reveal the topic better than professionals who are directly involved in this issue, - he stressed.
According to Golubev, often there is a misunderstanding between builders, developers and people involved in preservation of cultural heritage. The main topics that are raised among professional designers are the issues of integrated development of territories, interaction between the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Culture, determination of the boundaries of historical settlements, etc.
- The issue on the agenda is the necessity and expediency of forming a digital model of the territory to be built up in order to understand the location of historical and cultural heritage sites, the territory of protected zones. Therefore, experts who are as immersed in the topic as possible are invited to the session, - he stressed.
«Creation of digital systems in the field of cultural heritage protection»
The session was opened by Elena Kopylova, Rector of the Institute of Art of Restoration, Academician of the Academy of Architecture and Restoration, Professor, State Expert of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, who presented the report “Designing in the Historical Center: Problems and Prospects”. - There are a lot of problems, - she immediately set the tone for the discussion.
Elena Kopylova presented the classification of modern cities in terms of their development features. She identified three types in all:
- cities with a historically established system of development and planning (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod), which should be preserved and taken into account in the further development of such cities;
- cities of the Soviet period of construction (Magnitogorsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur). Their development must be carried out according to a similar principle, with the preservation of the historically emerging town-planning features;
- cities of modern construction (Zelenograd), having no architectural or urban heritage.
- One of the most important problems in modern urban planning is the relationship of historically established complexes, individual architectural ensembles and architectural monuments with new buildings, - she stressed. At the same time, she drew attention to the fact that the new buildings will be large-scale, multi-storey, with the most mechanized service processes. In this regard, the preservation of architectural monuments, the inclusion of old buildings in planning and development of a modern city is of particular importance.
Of peculiar relevance is the digitalization of objects, enabling to visualize how the new building will fit into the environment, the speaker is convinced. - Today we have the opportunity to see how the building will fit into the existing development of the quarter and the city as a whole. With the help of computer programs, we can visualize an object. This helps the developer to see what the facades of the future building will be like, and even to “walk” around it and understand its functionality, propose the project for public discussion, and convince the security authorities that the chosen decision is correct, take measures to preserve the objects of cultural heritage surrounding the new development. All this brings us to the creation of a digital system in the field of cultural heritage protection, - Kopylova emphasized.

The Rector of the Institute of the Art of Restoration showed on the slides several examples of projects carried out by the Institute using visualization technologies, in particular: the “Kislovodsk” resort house built in 1934. Restoration and adaptation of the building for a new spa-resort with medical services was carried out, the historical appearance of the object was restored, extensions were demolished, including dog kennels and two new buildings were designed. Another interesting project is the stadium in Smolensk, which is surrounded by 21 cultural heritage sites. The city authorities decided to build a residential block on this site, while preserving the appropriate height and historical appearance which would fit into the environment. Projects still exist only in paper format.
- Visualization, graphic design, computer graphics make it possible to understand the possibility of carrying out construction work in a historical environment. But still there is a necessity in building, and it is inevitable. Everyone wants to live in new houses and have new functionality, - she admitted. - New technologies often help to convince investors and city authorities. When the investor is presented the visualization, the result of what would happen becomes clear to him, and he decides: that’s it, it’s settled.
«Digital model of the monument»
Before the report “On the prospects for using digital technologies to improve the restoration of cultural heritage sites”, the Chairman of the Council of the Union of Restorers of St. Petersburg, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor Nina Shangina drew everybody’s attention to the fact that restorers and builders have no other way but to comply with each other’s wishes. At the same time, developers often have a different point of view from the restorers; they think restorers are backward and slow, while restorers consider any builder approaching a cultural heritage site as a person with bad intentions.
- But in my practice, all builders who came to the restoration became primarily restorers. Otherwise, without taking into account the main task of restoration, which is preservation of a cultural heritage site, there will be no successful results. The main task of the builder, since he approached the monument or started building next to the monument, is to preserve it, - she stressed.
According to Shangina, 10% of the country's cultural heritage is concentrated in St. Petersburg. In this regard, the Union of Restorers of St. Petersburg faces many difficult tasks.
- Restoration is a constantly evolving process, despite the fact that its goal remains permanent: to preserve the cultural heritage. The methods we use must change, - she stressed.
The speaker noted that specialists are introducing modern methods and technologies, including digital ones, to improve the quality of restoration of cultural heritage sites. These include the use of finished materials for restoration; improvement of analytical and testing equipment in the inspection of monuments and the use of application packages for accounting and design, including the latest BIM-modeling (BIM stands for Information Model of the Building). Of course, the introduction of new developments can significantly improve the quality and speed of restoration work. At the same time, Shangina noted a number of problems associated with the introduction of BIM technologies. When it comes to network design, there are no complains towards the application of the technology, but when the designers start their work with a building with historical curvatures, defects which have occurred over the years of operation, it is simply impossible to use BIM technologies.
- We would like to compile a digital model of the monument as a result of the digital technologies application, which could include not only the project of a specific restoration, but also the entire history of the object, the history of previous restorations, so that it becomes easier for each generation of restorers to work on the object, - she noted.
Shangina also singled out excessive regulatory activities in the restoration area. It greatly increases the design and production time. And the time frame goes beyond the year. The restoration itself takes less time than obtaining various permits, clarifying and coordinating design decisions, etc. As a result, work often proceeds according to the principle: one step forward, two steps back.
The speaker is convinced that the digital ecosystem is able to solve the systemic problems of restoration.
- Is it realistic to build a digital model for such complex processes? I don’t mean scanning the building with residents, but how to make the whole process digital. And this is precisely the main task. We believe that it is the digital ecosystem is the solution to the systemic problems of restoration. It will enable to reduce the time frames, non-production costs, as well as preserve the entire history of the monument and reduce the time of work in the archives. This will simplify not only the system of restoration work itself, but improve the quality and later promote such work to be effectively continued, - she noted.
Is it possible to create a digital twin of a cultural heritage object?
Ksenia Gubinskaya, Candidate of Architecture, Deputy Chairman of the Committee for the Preservation of the Cultural Heritage of the Leningrad Region, Associate Professor of the Department of Architectural and Urban Planning Heritage of the St. Petersburg State University of Architecture and Civil Engineering, presented the experience of the Leningrad Region in creating a digital twin of a cultural heritage site.
- The digital twin of a cultural heritage site is a challenge to modernity and a response to what is happening in the construction and restoration field. There is a feeling that we hammer nails with a microscope. We have a lot of modern digital instruments which are not adapted to the restoration industry, or are being adapted by local “kulibins”, - she complained.
The speaker emphasized three main problems in the digitalization of the restoration industry: the lack of a unified, reliable, high-quality information and communication source for urban planning entities; inefficient interaction of participants in the urban planning industry, as well as the low rate of digitalization of the heritage preservation industry, against the background of the active pace of digitalization of the construction industry.
- There is dissociation and the absence of even a single language of interaction. A digital tool can be a useful source of comparison and accumulation of data, - she concluded.
Gubinskaya also came up with a proposal to create a super service for the construction and restoration sectors. It will be able to optimize the exchange of information between citizens, authorities, developers and other interested parties, as well as become an assistant in obtaining permits and a platform for discussion, etc.
Returning to the topic of the report, the speaker said, that in 2022, an experiment was carried out to create 3D twins of wooden architecture objects, carried out at the expense of a grant from the Governor of the Leningrad Region.
- We realized that we cannot yet create digital twins. We tried to create a BIM model, it was a success to some extent, - Gubinskaya shared the results of her work.
An expert from St. Petersburg is convinced that the task of digitalization is not to dive into an abyss, but to agree on a conceptual mechanism and simple tools that will make it “more convenient to hammer nails into the preservation of our heritage, in the good sense of the word”.
Continuing the topic, Victor Lotkin, Deputy General Director of DCConsult, spoke about the use of artificial intelligence to check the compliance of the digital model at the design documentation stage with the adopted conceptual solutions. The speaker considers the division of documentation into design and working one at the stage of architectural and construction project development to be a real anachronism. At the same time, the development of documentation is usually based on the TOR from the customer, who often does not have the necessary competencies. The stage of creating a technical concept represents the visualization of a conceptual solution. We propose to implement this kind of approach to develop the architectural appearance of the historical center of Russian cities, including with the help of modeling technologies. The implementation of this approach cannot do without artificial intelligence.
- The main goal of artificial intelligence introduction into design is to significantly reduce costs of the design, construction, and operation process by reducing the number of design errors, which means of the human factor. AI in construction can be used throughout the life cycle of a project,” he said. In particular, AI is able to check the digital information model for compliance with regulatory requirements. According to Lotkin, thanks to the use of AI, it is possible to see how the future building will fit into the concept of urban development. - A single architectural appearance, environmental friendliness, cost-effectiveness is the future of the project, - he summed up.
Emotional was the speech “Historical Territories - 21st Century New Systems of Analytical Research” of Tatiana Kudryavtseva, Candidate of Architecture, Academician of the ROO AAS, Expert. She is convinced that we build cities without understanding what we are doing, without understanding what a historical territory is.
- We absolutely fail any understanding that a person is at the heart of the work of all elements, - she complained. - At present, we have bare walls of the houses, which in no way coincide with the rhythm of the land, human understanding and even the width of the streets. No one has yet taken efforts to apply new design, or investigate this phenomenon.
The right choice of material for restoration is the key to success
Svetlana Fisser, General Director of NPK HydroLand, LLC, emphasized in her report “Modern methods for researching construction materials of conservation and cultural heritage in historical centers” that innovative technologies and materials are needed in the XXI century in order to solve the problems of “sustainable restoration” to preserve the scientific potential of cultural heritage objects, which can restore the quality of the historical material destroyed by corrosion and to ensure its effective long-term protection from external influences in the conditions of the “new existence” of the monument.
According to the speaker, modern restoration requires knowledge not only in the field of architecture, but also in chemistry, ecology, materials science and engineering. The choice of materials for restoration is not an easy problem. On the one hand, the materials should be close to the original, but at the same time meet modern requirements. Fisser adheres to a conceptual approach to the study of materials, which is based on the study of the composition, structure, properties of historical building materials, the materials for their restoration and new materials which have passed the test of time for compatibility with historical materials of monuments of different nature.
The speaker thinks, that architectural monuments are affected by many factors: both external (temperature, air flow) and internal (humidity, biological pests, loads, etc.). Thanks to monitoring, it is possible to determine the nature of bio-contaminants present at the monument, the categories of loads, which must be done before choosing materials and developing a concept for restoration. Often, it is the choice of inefficient materials and restoration technologies that cause more harm than good to the monument, she complained. This can happen if loads, composition and structure of materials are not taken into account.
- Works to preserve the monument require the adoption of a set of measures: for cleaning, sanitation, strengthening, systemic protection from moisture, salts, aggressive gases, dirt, dust, and also, often, the adoption of special engineering solutions aimed at preventing damage and, above all, restoring waterproofing - , she said.
The speaker insists on the need to study the microstructure of historical materials, which allows choosing the right compatible restorative materials. The main problem arises at the line of contact between historical and modern material. It is at the junction that the most problematic areas, wet spots, etc. appear. The use of nanomaterials, which form a new system with historical material, which at the same time are the most durable, makes it possible to preserve and conserve architectural monuments.
Fisser demonstrated on unique photos the microcosm that inhabits the products of biochemical corrosion of damaged materials: fungi, algae, salts and much more.
The fact that we are working in the era of digitalization, working with electronic microscopes, allows us to store data in electronic form. Over the past 20-30 years, we have accumulated a huge data bank, now it is being systematized. We are creating a damage atlas, - Fisser said.
Only hands and head can be proper guards
Vladimir Bondarenko, Deputy Chairman of the Opora Rossii Committee for the Construction, spoke about taking into account the technical condition of the housing stock, including cultural heritage sites. According to him, at present, the housing stock of the Russian Federation exceeds 4 billion square meters. By 2030, this figure will approach 5 billion. About 9.5 thousand apartment buildings are cultural heritage sites; their condition is not fully investigated. It is necessary to aim at having data about each of the objects, a sort of unified database, he believes.
According to Bondarenko, the current legislation on technical condition registration is outdated and is actually not implemented. The reliable system of information on the object state accounting is practically non-existent. Since 2017, there is still a debate about what this system should look like. Most likely, an electronic passport of each object will appear, which will be filled in over time. The speaker emphasized that technical accounting is important for obtaining reliable initial data on the state of the object, evaluating investment attractiveness (a potential investor will be able to determine the size of investments), and synchronizing with information from the register of cultural objects.
He singled out the tasks of updating technical accounting system in Russia. This includes the updating of the legislative framework in the field of technical accounting of the state of the housing stock, the formation of a system of technical accounting of the state of the housing stock, reflecting the real state of the object at the current time, the creation of a register of the system for predicting the depreciation of the housing stock, and improving the efficiency of managing the life cycle of the housing stock.
The work of the section was completed by the speech of the architect-restorer of the highest category, member of the Union of Architects of Russia, honorary restorer of Moscow Larisa Lazareva. - The problem must be taken up by the whole community, otherwise we will not solve it, - she was convinced.
The speaker noted the difference between the housing development of Moscow and St. Petersburg. If the city on the Neva was built according to a unified state plan, and a unified compositional scheme and architectural appearance being immediately conceived, then Moscow differs in this respect; it may be called a “mish-mash city”, or “a Russian salad city”.
According to Lazareva, despite the advantages of digitalization, there are activities that could only be entrusted to a human being for fulfillment.
- When reconstructing and examining the sites, we find a lot of historical layers. We cannot entrust the complex scientific research that the restorer makes of these “layer cakes” to the machine, to new technologies, they can only be done with our own hands. It is only one’s hands and the head that can be a proper guard, - she is convinced.
- You need to choose a proper methodology, to work in historical buildings; and only a restorer, not a machine, is capable of this.
She also called for connecting new technologies with the knowledge and the necessity of the manual and the heart labor.