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Cornis technologies brought to Afghanistan to digitize architectural heritage


As an innovative and flexible company, Cornis is always happy to take up new challenges. In a previous newsletter, we were already presenting the Tour Saint Jacques – a Parisian monument - project where Cornis camera system was used to fully scan the tower’s facades. The online results were presented in Paris City Hall during the European Heritage Days. This time, Cornis Blade Inspection system is used in Afghanistan to digitize endangered architectural heritage.


Upon an invitation from the French embassy of Afghanistan, Cornis tools have been used by Pascal Convert (plastic artist) and company Iconem (specialized in cultural heritage digitization by drone) in order to fully digitize the Buddhas of Bamiyan, the monumental statues of standing Buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamiyan valley.

Q : Bringing Cornis tools in Afghanistan! Can you tell us more about it?
A: Fifteen years ago, the Taliban were destructing the carved Buddhas of the Bamyan cliff. In order to commemorate this event and to prevent new destructions from erasing this part of Afghanistan’s history forever, plastic artist Pascal Convert and company Iconem have decided to digitize the entire surface of the Bamiyan cliff and caves that were sculpted and painted.

Q: Why did Cornis decide to take part in this adventure?
A: As Pascal Convert said “Drone-based photogrammetry [method used by Iconem] enables to make 3D models of the cliff. But the sharpness of the details was below my expectations”. They eventually called upon Cornis’ know-how in very high-resolution digitization. The main challenge for our team was to adapt our system to the very unusual need of the Bamiyan project.
Q: Which difficulties did you have to face?
A: For us at Cornis, it is important to confront ourselves to new applications very regularly. It forces us to improve our tools constantly and remain innovative. The main difficulty was the fact that the site was in a very remote location and that no one from Cornis could join the expedition. We therefore had to push the robustness and the repeatability of our system to a higher level. Also we had only half a day to train the team deployed in Afghanistan. Nonetheless, our biggest pride is that the training and the robustness of our tools allowed for a smooth scanning process. We also had to adjust some picture and focusing settings to adapt our system to the surface that was being scanned.

Q: What is for Cornis the interest in participating in such projects?
A: Cornis is happy to take part to those projects for several reasons. First and foremost, it is motivating for our teams. It leads us to innovate and test our products to their limits. Besides, Cornis activities humbly contribute to the creation of a sustainable future: better inspections for better maintenance and operation of our energetic infrastructures and transports. This is an even bigger challenge when it comes to older infrastructures than renewables such as hydro-electricity, transport infrastructures, etc. It is therefore pretty natural for us to help inspect monuments from the past to help better maintain them in the future!
Preparing tomorrow also means making sure that yesterday is maintained!

Q: Do you have other projects of this kind in the pipeline?
A: Yes, but I cannot say more for now!

For more information, please read Pascal Convert’s interview in Le Monde website (French leading newspaper) dated 24.04.2016.
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