Robot Vision Group

National Laboratory of Pattern Recognition

Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences

3D Reconstruction for Heritage Preservation

(Supproted by Natural Science Foundation of China, National 973 Program of China, State Administration of Cultural Heritage)



Together with european architecture and arabian architecture, ancient Chinese architecture is an important component of the system of world architecture. The most significant characteristic of ancient Chinese architecture is the use of timber framework. Paintings and carvings were added to the architectural work to make it more beautiful and attractive. There were many different styles of ancient Chinese architecture, such as imperial architecture, buddhist architecture, taoist architecture and garden Architecture. All of them are unique and equally exquisite. Some of them are made UNESCO World Heritage Sites like mount Wudang, mount Wutai, etc. They represent the highest standards in Chinese art and architecture over a period of thousands years.

But how to protect these architectures is a great challenge. For example, in May 12,2008 earthquake in China, most buildings in the protected area of mount Qingcheng were severely affected. And six building complexes collapsed, including the Erwang temple. As shown in Fig. 1, The left side is the picture of Donghua palace and the right side is Erwang temple after the earthquake.


Fig 1. Donghua palace and Erwang temple after the earthquake

For another example, on 20 January 2003, a fire broke out in the Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains. Two-and-a-half hours later, the Yuzhengong Palace was burned to the ground. No one was injured in the fire but many of the structures from the Ming dynasty (14th-17th centuries) were damaged. Fig. 2 is the pictures of Yuzhengong Palace before and after the fire.


Fig 2. Yuzhengong palace before and after the fire

So our project is focused on popularization and protection of these ancient architectures. For doing these, we need 3D models. We plane to use some 3D reconstruction technologies to obtain these models of the ancient architectures. 

Some Results


Fig.3 Yungang grottoes of Datong


Fig.4 Xuankong temple of mount Heng


Fig.5 Yingxian wood tower


Fig.6 Marble boat in the Summer Palace


A dataset for Chinese ancient architecture 3D reconstruction is currently available for non-commercial use. [Data]