The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse Preservation Project
EvolveLAB and On Point Scans joined forces with the CU Environmental Design students to assist in their historical documentation process of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. The Teahouse was a gift to the City of Boulder from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, with a rich cultural history that is unique in the Western Hemisphere. Its cultural significance and detailed architectural design make the building a significant landmark for Boulder.
Historic preservation of buildings previously used traditional methods for documentation by taking hand measurements in the field and turning those into drawings with accompanying photographs. This method has many downfalls and limitations, such as inaccuracy, time consumption, and the inability to capture mass data in fine detail.
Documenting the intricate details of the Dushanbe Tea House would have taken a team months. The hand-carved columns have an elaborate design that would be difficult to dimension, as well as the panels and ceiling that make up the Tea House. If an element of the structure were to be damaged, the design could be recreated, but it would prove to be a problematic and labor-intensive task from traditional means.
On Point Scans and EvolveLAB teamed with the CU Environmental Design Students to help them more accurately and quickly document the intricate building. Instead of using hand measurements, On Point Scans used LiDAR technology to scan the interior and exterior of the building, which took roughly two hours, compared to the hundreds of hours traditional methods would have consumed.
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) digitizes historic preservation from the beginning and allows for highly accurate data collection, such as millimeters instead of inches of accuracy, in a significantly smaller amount of time than traditional hand measuring. LiDAR is a type of laser scanning (also known as reality capture) and can be explained by a scanning device that emits light and then detects and tracks the amount of time it takes for the beam to bounce back to the sensor. The emitted light or laser is usually safe to the eye and around the frequency of infrared, which is not visible to the human eye.
LiDAR generates a point cloud. A point cloud is a data set composed of x, y, and z coordinates that are thousands of dots making up surfaces representing items in space (LiDAR Scanning & Digital Imaging). Depending on the scanner used, the accuracy of these point clouds are up to a millimeter, verses photogrammetry which can have the variance of an inch or hand measuring that has plenty of room for inaccuracy. Point clouds are then used in a variety of software purposes to replicate buildings and items.
For the Dushanbe Tea House and other preservation projects, a simple workflow utilizing Autodesk ReCap and Autodesk Revit is used to create as-built documentation. ReCap aligns multiple scans and allows for users to clean up their point cloud data. Autodesk Revit is a Building Information Modeling (BIM) tool that enables designers to create intelligent 3D and parametric plans. Using the Dushanbe Teahouse point cloud, the building and elements can be modeled in 3D, creating a digital twin.
The digital twin is a highly accurate as-built 3D model of the Dushanbe Tea House that can be used for restoration or remodel purposes. If any element of the Tea House were ever to be damaged, we would have the ability to create a highly accurate replica. EvolveLAB and On Point Scans assisted with the CU Boulder student team to complete this scan, generating a point cloud of the as-built conditions.
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse Story:
Over forty artisans from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, created this building from 1987-1990, which Dushanbe gifted to Boulder, Colorado as a sign of peace and friendship. Dushanbe, Tajikistan and Boulder, Colorado have a unique relationship known as "sister cities." Construction of the Teahouse in Boulder didn't begin until 1997 after receiving grants from the National Endowment in 1995, and finally opened in 1998 (Boulder-dusanbe.org). The Teahouse is a popular landmark in Boulder today, over 100,000 visitors enjoy the Teahouse per year (Tidy).
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse claims the structure is one-of-a-kind in the Northern Hemisphere, displaying "artistic tradition that dates back nearly 2,000 years," in Tajikistan (Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse). The building is made up of colorful ceramic panels, painted and carved ceilings, carved plaster panels, carved cedar columns, and "seven hammered copper sculptures." Each item is handcrafted and exceptionally elaborate; "no two columns are alike."
Boulder-Dushanbe Sister Cities (BDC), the City of Boulder, CU Boulder, and Maruf Mirahmatov have all been key players in the restoration project. Maruf has traveled from Tajikistan in August of 2018 until February 2019 to work on restoring the exterior painted details, interior gaunch and more (boulder-dushanbe.org). In addition to restoring the Teahouse Marjuf spent time teaching CU Boulder students teaching, "a class Central Asian design motifs and applications," training the 16 students to assist in helping with the restoration.
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Tidd, Kelly, et al. “Boulder Sister Cities: One Big Happy Family.” Your Boulder, 18 July 2016, yourboulder.com/boulder-sister-cities/.