Centre d’innovació i Tecnologia BARCELONATECH

Virtual reproduction of the architectural evolution of the medieval complex of Palau Reial Major, Barcelona

The Virtual Innovation in Modelling the Architecture and the City Lab (VIMAC) has completed a 3D construction of the Palau Reial Major in Barcelona. The model was used to digitalise and reproduce highly accurately the evolution of the architecture of this medieval complex, where counts of Barcelona and kings of Aragon conducted their public and private life. The model reconstructs the changes that took place over the five centuries that the city was at its peak as a Mediterranean capital and reveals aspects that were not known in the past.

With advanced laser scanning, photogrammetry and topography, researchers overcame the lack of sufficiently accurate plans of the structural remains and the missing parts in such a large heritage complex, with a long, complicated evolution and several interventions and historicist restorations carried out over time. The main contribution of VIMAC was to generate the point cloud using terrestrial laser scanning and drawing up new floor plans, elevations and sections to make an exact, accurate copy of the building. This has allowed historians, archaeologists and heritage professionals to confirm, review and discover for the first-time construction and architectural aspects of the count’s palace, a structure comprised of three buildings, one of which is the Tinell Room. This has also helped to explain and represent how adjacent buildings were absorbed, including the earlier Palau Episcopal, Santa Ágata Chapel or the porticoed Plaça del Rei with its large gateways, and how the site was expanded for new uses. 

The models developed by VIMAC form part of the work prior to the production ‘Restitució històrica virtual. El Palau Reial Major de Barcelona, segles XI-XV’ (Virtual historical restitution. Barcelona’s Palau Reial Major, eleventh to fifteenth centuries) that is an eight-minute schematic reproduction of the expansion and transformation over five centuries of the medieval complex of Plaça del Rei. The  interpretation of the virtual historical restitution is based on a script and historical research undertaken by Ramon J. Pujades, research technician at the Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA) and the project coordinator, along with the historian Reinald González. This visual synthesis is a unique heritage record of a monumental complex and an example of interdisciplinary work for the study and conservation of heritage.

The transparent 3D evolutionary model was created by the architect and engineer Marc Viader and the video was created by New Division, based on the work of VIMAC and VECLUS, a company specialised in heritage management.

This project forms part of the virtual restitution of historical sites that was projected at the exhibition La metamorfosi medieval, segles XIII-XV (Medieval metamorphosis, thirteenth to fifteenth centuries), which will run until 5 January 2020 in the Tinell Hall of the Museum of the History of Barcelona (MUHBA) in the Plaça del Rei, Barcelona.