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Scotland's laser scanners reveal the beauty of Vienna as Minister launches commercial enterprise in digital documentation

9 June 2010

                           Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop, Historic Scotland Chief Executive Ruth Parsons and Professor Seona Reid, Director of the Glasgow School of Art

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop met the team of experts who form Scotland’s new Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation (CDDV).

The CDDV is a new commercial partnership between Historic Scotland and Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio - using state-of-the-art laser scanning technology and 3D visualisation software to digitally record heritage sites around the globe, and enable virtual access.

The Centre grew from the Scottish Ten, a project to digitally document Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites and five international World Heritage Sites launched in 2009. The Centre will deliver the Scottish Ten project for the Scottish Government but will also undertake commercial projects to generate income for both organisations and further research and development in the field.

While launching the CDDV at Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio at Pacific Quay, the Minister saw the results of work done on the Centre’s first commercial contract at Schonbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs and one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria.

The Minister viewed the Austrian scans taken in March and other recent projects in Lab 1, created by Glasgow School of Art as a large visualisation space with cutting edge projection and 3D technology.

The Minister for Culture and External Affairs said: “The launch of CDDV is an exciting achievement by two public sector bodies that have come together to share their expertise and knowledge. The work puts Scotland clearly at the forefront of using this technology to record and manage our heritage. We have already used these techniques to record the world-famous Rosslyn Chapel. A very thorough 3D record of the building was developed, providing practical information for the conservation project, as well as demonstrating the potential for education and interpretation.

“The centre’s work will not only raise Scotland’s profile as a leader in this field, but it is generating income that will be fed back into conservation projects and research. As everyone recognizes, we are going through a challenging time and looking at new ways to encourage investment in our heritage which will help preserve our historic environment for future generations.

“The images from Schonbrunn are stunning. It is a beautiful building and to be able to show all of the detailing with such precision is not only visually spectacular, but it will also help to monitor the condition and management of the building and offer opportunities to use the digital model to promote it as a visitor attraction.

“We have already had excellent feedback from a number of sites around the globe interested in the expertise we have built up in using this technology for conservation with the lessons learned giving us greater experience as we tackle the challenges that the five Scottish World Heritage Sites will present.

“The team is delighted to have been invited to include the Schonbrunn Palace in its work and the information they have provided will be a benefit to Schloβ Schonbrunn and its visitors for many years to come.”

Professor Seona Reid, Director of the Glasgow School of Art, said: “The launch of CDDV really is a testament to the strength of the world-leading work The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio and Historic Scotland have undertaken in the specialised application of laser scanning technology and 3D visualisation. Its exciting the partnership has now been formalised and the Centre will provide and excellent vehicle through which the two organisations can collaborate further and continue this ground breaking research and practise.”

Wolfgang Kippes, CEO of Schonbrunn Company, said: “A detailed three-dimensional survey is very important for the Palace. It will enable us to evaluate the current exterior condition of the Palace and the other structures as well as provide accurate dimensional information for future building assessment and management.”

The laser scanners used by the team collect billions of highly precise measurements by bouncing the laser off the surfaces of the building. This information is then processed and can be used in different forms – as architectural drawings, cut through sections and fully 3D photographic quality models. The data can then be used for education, marketing and presentation of a site as well as incredibly detailed measurements to assist in the conservation of the building or monument.

For more information on the Scottish Ten visit

Notes for editors

  • The Scottish Ten project was announced at Mount Rushmore on July 04 2009 by then Culture Minister Michael Russell MSP. The five Scottish World Heritage Sites are The Heart of Neolithic Orkney, The Antonine Wall, The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, New Lanark and St Kilda. To watch footage of the team scanning Mount Rushmore visit

  • Schonbrunn Palace, together with its ancillary buildings and extensive park, is by virtue of its long and colourful history one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria. The whole ensemble, including the palace, the park with its numerous architectural features, fountains, statues and zoo – the oldest of its kind in the world – was placed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1996.  For more information visit

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament. For more information visit

  • The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is one of the United Kingdom’s (UK) most successful higher education institutions specialising in architecture, design and fine art.  It has an established reputation world wide for high quality education and research demonstrated by the outstanding successes of its students and graduates and the professional standing of its staff.  It is home to an international community of 1,700 undergraduate and postgraduate students studying in the schools of Architecture, Design and Fine Art, or at the Digital Design Studio. For further information:

Glasgow School of Art
Alison Hunter
Tel: +44 (0)141 566 1442/ +44 7939 954 836

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768100