Restoring Pugin Using Innovative Technology
From better heritage conservation to heritage career promotion, NTU are harnessing innovative digital technology to help Restore Pugin.
The use of innovative digital technology is a core component of the Restoring Pugin Project at Nottingham Cathedral. It is hoped that it will enable the Cathedral to not only better manage its heritage but also to encourage young people to consider a career in the heritage sector. Thanks to a partnership with Nottingham Trent University’s Virtual and Creative Technologies Research Lab (CVTLab) at the School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment, the Cathedral is collaborating on two innovative projects to deliver on these important project aims.
A ‘Digital Twin’ and Environmental Considerations
The first project involves developing a “digital twin” of Nottingham Cathedral to monitor its environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and air pollution over a 12 month period which started in September. The NTU team is gathering data from 42 sensors positioned across various zones in the Cathedral. This data monitors the Cathedral’s environment via the digital twin.
As regular worshippers may have noticed, the Cathedral suffers from damp and condensation in some areas which have proved very difficult to solve. The data from the sensors will give detailed information on how conditions such as external temperature, visitor numbers and the heating system affect Cathedral environment and find a solution so that the restored Pugin interior will not be damaged.
A Digital Game-Based Learning Platform
The second project will support the project’s goal to encourage and help young people to consider a career in heritage. One of the project’s outputs will be the creation of a digital game-based learning platform which offers heritage conservation education for students aged 12-17.
This initiative focuses on leveraging gameplay to make learning enjoyable while tapping into the proven effectiveness of learning through gaming. Research has shown the motivational aspect of games in learning and the educational power embedded in gameplay.
This game-based platform is being delivered in two main stages. At the moment, the NTU team are conducting a series of workshops involving school students, including students with additional needs, to co-create the game’s storyboard. These workshops foster creativity and refine the game concept, showcasing outputs from a workshop organised with Loughborough Schools Foundations. The team will then take the insights from these workshops and develop the co-created storyboard into an actual virtual game. The second stage of this project will then involve testing the game with school students to evaluate its performance and identify areas for improvement. The testing phase is scheduled in February and May 2024.
The application of these new digital technologies, developed at Nottingham Trent University, will not only enhance the Cathedral’s conservation management and support the project’s aims of supporting the diversification of the heritage workforce but knowledge gained through their use has the potential to benefit other heritage buildings across the country.
About the NTU Team
The Virtual and Creative Technologies research Lab (CVTLab) at the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment leads the two projects in collaboration with NTU Smart Wireless Innovation Facility (SWIFT). The CVTLab team comprises Prof. Benachir Medjdoub (Project Lead), Dr. Ana Souto (Co-investigator), Dr. Moulay Chalal (Co-investigator), Dr. Nacer Bezai (Co-investigator), Dr. Rihana Sajad (Research Fellow), Dr. Bubaker Shalmak (Research Fellow), and Mr. Annamalai Selvarajan (Research Fellow). SWIFT team comprises Mr. Ivan Marjanovic (Technical Director) and Mr. Mohammadreza Khosravi (IoT Specialist).
About Restoring Pugin
This project has been made possible thanks to generous funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. For more updates on the Cathedral’s Restoring Pugin project check out www.nottinghamcathedral.co.uk or search for #RestoringPugin on social media.
 Kirriemuir and McFarlane