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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Laser Scanning of Old College, Aberystwyth

An early photograph c. 1870 of Old College, Aberystwyth, then incorporating Castle House.  It was the first explicitly Picturesque house in Britain.  DI2011_0299    NPRN:23303

The Royal Commission is currently working with staff from the Department of Computer Science, Aberystwyth University, on the laser scanning of heritage sites.  Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship student (KESS), Marek Ososinski from the University, is working with Commission Investigators, Sue Fielding and Louise Barker, on a process for capturing and processing 3D laser-scan data of a range of historic buildings and archaeological sites, including the use of robotic vehicles to investigate the possibilities of autonomous surveys.

On 14 November, the team, including project supervisors Dr Fred Labrosse and Dr Mark Neal, spent the morning scanning the interior of the Old Quad of Aberystwyth University’s Old College building (nprn: 23303 ).  Most remarkably, the origins of the Old College lie in Castle House, a marine villa designed by John Nash in 1794 for Uvedale Price, one of the founders of the Picturesque movement.  The villa was adapted and enlarged by John Seddon in 1864 as the Castle Hotel for the entrepreneur Thomas Savin to take advantage of the newly completed railway to Aberystwyth.  But after Savin’s bankruptcy, the unfinished hotel was bought by the newly-founded University College in the early 1870s and converted in various stages, but was badly damaged by a serious fire in 1885.  Castle House villa was subsequently demolished and replaced in 1894 by a new central block, designed in the Queen Anne style by C.J. Ferguson.  The interior of the Old Quad is full of rich architectural detail, including intricately carved stone capitals, stained glass windows, and wooden bosses to the barrel roof, making it ideal as a test for recording through laser scanning.

The project will run for three years, and the scan data from all surveys will be archived in the National Monuments Record of Wales and made accessible to the public.


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