May.9, 2013

3D scanners are used to scan faces, objects, furniture, room or buildings. But two British architects, Matthew Shaw and William Trossell have been expanding the representational range of the laser scanner over the past few years. Their work, called ScanLAB Projects, provides full colour, millimetre perfect 3D data of objects, buildings and landscape for use in Design, Making and Visualisation.

What are the capabilities of 3D scanning? Could the scanner detect smoke and mist? In 2011 the pair started their experiement: scanning mist and humidity. "It did and here are the remarkable results."

A scan of smoke | credit: ScanLAB

Scans of mist generated from humidity tanks. | credit: ScanLAB

In end of 2011 the pair joined one of Greenpeace's tours to the Arctic to produce detailed computer simulations of the ice floes as they drifted in the Fram Strait off Svalbard, Norway. Working with sea ice scientists Till Wagner and Nick Toberg from Cambridge University, they have generated precise and extremely beautiful models of ice and also collected the data for the ice's thickness, snow depth and salinity.

The scanning performed is believed to be the most detailed and successful of its kind. The data provides a vital replica of the onsite conditions which is now being used as the basis for a wealth of off-site research endeavours. The scans will also help validate measurements collected by aerial photography and satellite imagery, which are used throughout the year to record the extent of ice cap. Notes the team.

Scans of an ice floe | credit: ScanLAB

Over the years the duo has been using 3D scanner to document highly ephemeral, even ethereal, spatial events. BLDGBLOG's Geoff Manaugh comments:

Whether scanning mist and humidity or traveling north to the Arctic to shoot lasers at pressure ridges and melting ice floes, their work is almost a kind of documentary holography: not a film, not a photograph, not a 3D model, but also not simply a point-cloud, their work operates almost narratively as they capture objects or places in the process of becoming something else, blurred by passing fog or pulled apart by unseen ocean currents. You could write a screenplay for scanners.

ScanLAB Projects will host a 10-day workshop in Ottawa, Canada this summer, from 5-13 July 2013. If you want to know more about 3D scanning the nature, check out here the details of the course "post-industrial landscapes."

Set within the context of a post-industrial era, we find ourselves venturing through the Canadian wilderness of Gatineau Park, walking in the footsteps of industrial alchemist Thomas "Carbide" Willson. Within this natural blossom lie the ruins of his former empire, the decaying heart of industrialization and manufacturing in a factory that never fully materialized.


The course will explore 3D devices that can scan the unnatural post-industrial landscape in an attempt to fuse the accidental qualities of discovery – such as Willson's trial and error of calcium carbide – with the mathematical precision of laser-scanned environments. Students will form their own architectural 'carbide', a fusion of scans and digital modelling to generate a landscape that materialises from Willson's place of decay into a new architectural ground.



Posted in 3D Scanning



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