Argus Newspaper Article

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Argus Newspaper Article

Life of the pavilion recreated using a touch of Hollywood

Cutting edge software has been used to create these stunning images of the changing appearance of Brighton's most treasured historical landmark over the centuries. The Royal Pavilion Estate has been unveiled like never before after being modelled using the same software used on countless Hollywood blockbusters including Skyfall, The Hunger Games and The Dark Knight. 

The project has uncovered new information about the pleasure palace's colourful history and could be used to help map out its future as well as potentially giving tourists a virtual reality tour through its popular gardens and lush interiors. 

Models have been created of the landmark through five key dates in its development, with the current Royal Pavilion converted into more than 260,000 polygons after several hundred man hours were dedicated to its digital transformation. The pavilion follows in the foot-steps of other great historical buildings including Buckingham Palace, the White House and Versailles in undergoing a digital modelling pro-cess to reveal their evolution over the centuries. 

The digitisation of the Regency spectacle started last year when Brighton resident and retired city trader Colin Jones sent a model he had created of the pavilion to Conservative councillor Carol Theobald. The image was then passed on to head of the city's museums Janita Bagshawe who was keen to explore it's potential and quickly arranged a meeting with Mr Jones and leading pavilion staff. 

As well as creating a comprehensive model of the current pavilion, models have been produced of the 1787 Marine Pavilion, the 1802 Marine Pavilion extension, the 1808 new Dome and the 1826 John Nash version. With the software programme, Mr Jones has been able to animation showing how the estate has changed over centuries. Residents will be able to see the fruits of his work in a link-up with Maker Club at this year's Brighton Digital Festival. He said: "The model should be really valuable. "You can see the many things that have changed from 1787 to now; it's extraordinary how the whole estate has changed and how new buildings have been overlaid on the old buildings.". Mr Jones said the model could be used to give visitors a new perspective on the historical building.

Among the challenges Mr Jones had to overcome was modelling buildings that no longer exist, relying on the work of artists' paintings and engravings, which often gave conflicting impressions, for historical details. Even using architect's plans could cause problems because the final built outcome could change during the construction phase. To increase the accuracy of the final models, Royal Pavilion Curators enlisted the co-operation of a group of academics who were able to draw on knowledge of legal documents and written witness accounts to modify the final version. 

But even mapping what stands today remained problematic because of inaccessible areas such as roofs. To help with the process, the modelling team was assisted by a YouTube video produced by a local drone pilot who had recently flown over. Mr Jones said: "It is a complex building to map because it's such a mixture of styles. "The programme works best with boxy buildings and it finds curvy shapes quite difficult to do. "The pavilion is full of minarets, domes and curvy features which makes it more difficult and resource hungry".

As well as the changes to the Royal Pavilion Estate over time, the project has also been able to uncover the "might have beens" of the landmark's history. Mr Jones said: "John Nash had drawn up full plans for the whole estate including landscaping and road systems. "We have got the plans from 1826 and it clearly shows planned buildings and roads on parts of the estate but when you look for evidence that happened, it's nowhere, some of the plans just never happened. "Nash fell out of favour during the project because of the costs so maybe George IV drew the line under some of his ideas." Mr Jones also hopes to use the. modelling software to bring to life alternative visions for the pavilion by architects who lost out to Nash in the competition to redevelop the estate in the 19th century. He said: "Humphry Repton produced a beautiful book to show his ideas. "I could model his vision for the pavilion which was never built from these pictures."