Teens Use 3D to Protect Centuries-Old Architectural Heritage

By Herve

cathedral project1
You’ve probably heard teenagers sighing something like “everything I’m learning at school is useless!” There are many reasons behind this typical reaction and I certainly understand that studying the intercept theorem could be boring if never applied to real-life challenges.

To help teens out of this ‘academic funk’, the “Ma pierre à l’édifice(*)” contest  helps students by combining history, literature, mathematics, technology and the arts to serve a civic-minded, real-life useFUL project.

pierre-edificeLast year, the French Ministry of Education, the “Observatoire du Patrimoine Religieux” (OPR, Religious Heritage Observatory) and Dassault Systèmes signed a general agreement defining a yearly contest dedicated to students aged 12-14. The contest drives teenagers to study in-depth a religious building (historical context, architecture, techniques to measure its dimensions…) using most of the disciplines taught at schools.

One example: As you may know, it is almost impossible to obtain a detailed plan of a 300-year old building. To measure the height of a bell tower, students may refer to Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island and see how the engineer Cyrus Smith determined the height of a cliff using the intercept theorem. There are many other ways to make such measures and they are detailed in the teachers’ guide proposed for free to participants.

Based upon their own measures, observations, digital pictures and on-site visits with architects, the teens create 3D representations of historic religious buildings using 3DVIA Shape. Students publish their models on www.3dvia.com and OPR embeds them via the 3DVIA plug-in to their official online inventory. Today the OPR digital inventory includes a portion of the France’s religious buildings but they hope to complete their online collection in the coming years.

pierre-edifice1Last spring, seven junior high schools selected by the Ministry participated in a pilot phase. The winners from the Collège Centre du Creusot and Collège Victor Hugo de Nevers were awarded on November 6th, 2009 during the International Heritage Show held at the Louvre museum.

Here’s an interactive 3D look at digital models from the winning teams.

The first is Eglise Saint-Henry situated in Le Creusot:

And here’s a less-traditional Eglise Sainte-Bernardette du Banlay, situated in Nevers:

The 2010 edition is now open for French school registrations and more information can be found on the official website (in French).

Do you know of any similar projects going on in other countries?  Please share!



Hervé Foucher

Hervé Foucher works for Dassault Systèmes Education Department and is in charge of online communities for students and educators.

(*)For those who are not familiar with French, the name of the project is a play on words. The expression “Apporter sa pierre à l’édifice” (word for word “to bring one’s stone to the building”) means to bring a willingness of working on a project, even if it’s a small contribution. At the same time, the stone and the building refer to the monuments OPR tries to protect.

Sneak Peek @Shanghai World Expo’s Virtual French Pavilion

By Kate


Hi everyone,

Happy New Year!  I wish you lots of health and happiness in 2010!

Things are gearing up for the Shanghai World Expo, and I thought you may enjoy seeing where organizers are with the virtual component.

The below news report covers the virtual expo and even shows a sneak peak to the French Pavilion (made with 3DVIA Virtools).

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What do you think?

Stay tuned as I’ll be interviewing the French Pavilion developer soon for 3DPerspectives . . .



A 3D Community Comes of Age, A Year at 3DVIA

By Cliff

2009 was a very BIG year for 3DVIA. 3DVIA grew leaps and bounds this year, proving that users are responding to our mission of democratizing ‘3D for everyone’.  In 2009, 3DVIA.com grew to almost 150,000 users and our warehouse of 3D models grew to almost 20-thousand.  We also launched an impressive lineup of new products and services.

So much happened for 3DVIA this past year that a simple blog post might not do it justice.  Rather than mentioning all the great things that were accomplished this year, I created this video of many of our achievements.  Enjoy!

If you are interested in any of the products or services mentioned in the video, here is a quick list:


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