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Using NUS-Baba House as a case study, this study investigates ways to document the condition and repair by reproducing architectural details, slowly deteriorating. In addition, the documentation of heritage archetypes derived from the 3D scanned data of various architectural features is currently building an open-source digital library of historic building elements for future presentations to a broader audience. This interdisciplinary study by researchers from the Department of Architecture, and Department of Built Environment of the College of Design and Engineering, NUS, attempts to integrate contemporary technologies and heritage conservation, ensuring a greater appreciation of the tangible past and its preservation for future generations.

Research, Documentation, and Restoration of Singapore's Built Heritage through 3D Modeling

Funded by the Ministry of Singapore's Academic Research Fund (AcRF) Tier 1 Grant (October 2021 to March 2023), Dr Nikhil Joshi is leading the research in the Architectural Conservation Laboratory, which investigates the use of advanced 3D and nanotechnologies for the conservation of historic structures.

This research explores the possibility of using advanced technologies such as 3D scanning, 3D modeling, and 3D printing to document, research, and restore architectural elements of varied scales and materials. This project also explores a suitable application of nano-coating that is anti-staining, UV-resistant, and resilient to prolong the lifespan of the 3D printed elements. Highly transparent and UV-resistant super-hydrophobic nanoarrays of ceramic-encapsulated metal-oxide nanomaterials dispersed within polymeric matrices will be investigated as potential nanocomposite coatings to protect and preserve 3D reproduced architectural elements and to prolong their lifespan. 

Team

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Nikhil Joshi

Principal Investigator 

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Kua Harn Wei 

Co-Investigator 

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Wang Quin

Collaborator 

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Shah Kwok Wei 

Collaborator 

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Abhimanyu Goel

Research Associate 

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Zheng Qiao

Research Assistant 

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Atul Garg

Research Assistant 

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Chui Yee Chin

Research Assistant 

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Elizabeth Yang

Research Assistant 

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Luk Ying Xian 

Research Assistant 

Kua Harn Wei, Abhimanyu Goel 

June 2022

The team has carried out highest 3D scans of the chosen architectural motif. Special factors like the 3D scanner's proximity and the lighting conditions were taken into account. A  relevant 3d software was used to stitch the scans together.A test 3D print has been created using high-quality scanned mesh. 

The next step after obtaining a high-quality 3D scan is to examine the various surfaces with various paints for improved workability, cost, and time. Different 3d polymer tiles are produced by FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling), SLS (Stereolithography), and SLA (Selective Laser Sintering). Three paint types that are frequently used in the heritage industry are tested on the three different surface types. These paints come in three varieties: natural, mineral silica, and acrylic-based. All of the samples were tested against a UV Accelerated Weather Test machine using a combination of surfaces, paints, and specialty coatings.

Experiment results:

 

 When natural paints were combined with lime putty, cracking and fading were seen. Natural paints fade more quickly than acrylic paints. If priming is not utilized, cracking may appear. While porous surfaces require a base coat to hold some paints, polymer surfaces can use acrylic without one. Testing are done on various compositions. Experiments are still ongoing to make new findings and results.  

Future progress:

 

1. Continue testing different substrate, paint, and coating combinations to find the ideal one.

2. The historians will receive 3D models for an additional examination of the Baba House's architectural themes.

3. The finished 3D model will be printed according to the required dimensions.

4. The completed 3D model is coated and painted.

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