Architectural Reconstruction from Photographs
One of the most enjoyable aspects of working on bespoke designs is the variety of projects across a wide range of industries. In February, a particularly interesting enquiry hit our inbox. D&D Gowans, Property Developers, asked if we could re-create an architectural detail (an anthemion mould) from photographs.
The development is in Union Street, once Aberdeen’s glittering mile but today needs a clean and sorely needs the sort of investment this development is providing, however, as a conservation area, any changes to the frontages along Union Street come under the close supervision of the Heritage Trust.
We got a sneak preview of the work in-progress on the development. The quality and finishing of the interior is exceptionally high-end. The ground floor will be a hairdressing salon and the apartments above are already full of beautiful ornate plaster, high-tech ventilation, heating and appliances and finely crafted to the smallest detail. Our solution would have to meet some very exacting standards.
Could we create a design from an old photo reference that would win the approval of the Heritage Trust and could we also get it made to a high standard in a suitable material?
The reference images show the frontage in the early 1900’s. The front of the building has been altered over the years into quite an ugly shop-front. The current development has already restored the original window and door proportions and the development is already a huge improvement.
The missing piece was the wooden moulding above the door – an Anthemion Mould comprising of two roundels and a leaf design.
The granite blocks shown in the photo are a known size, so figuring out the size of the mould was straightforward.
The Heritage Trust provided a rough sketch of what was required.
While we often use CAD software to process engineering files, this project called for more organic modelling techniques. Our tool-of-choice for this sort of work is Blender, an open-source 3d creation suite.
A significant advantage of a digital design process is the ease and speed that changes can be made. This facilitates an iterative process where options can be developed and feedback incorporated.
An iterative approach was especially useful for this project where we needed to incorporate feedback, reach agreement and obtain sign-off not only from our client, but also the Heritage Trust.
In the space of a week, we were able to iterate through 5-6 versions, incorporating feedback at each step.
To manufacture the mould, we needed to find someone with a CNC machine that could mill the shape from a solid block of suitable material.
Our friends at Marketec turned out to have the perfect solution, a CNC machine that could handle the job, the capability to handle digital model files, and they also have stock of Scottish hardwoods.
Marketec design and manufacture high quality demonstration and training products, we particularly like their design philosophy where they simplify and abstract their models to focus on key aspects for training or demonstration purposes. Visit their website at: marketec.co.uk
Celtic3d provided the finalised design, Marketec then manufactured it by milling the shape out of a piece of Scottish hardwood. The result is very tactile, and the wood is beautiful, almost a shame to paint it.
We are already thinking about repeating the process for some interior pieces that could be oiled to show off the wood to its full effect.
The joiners added the intersecting runners and installed the finished Anthemion Mould above the doorway and painted it to match in with the rest of the woodwork.
If you are passing number 148 (between the Monkey House / Chaophraya and Eclectic Fizz / Ici’s) you can see the doorway with its original architectural detail restored.
We are delighted to see at least one small part of Union Street is being returned to its proper state.