Restoring Ancient Monuments

I decided to spend some of my last few months in India sightseeing like a tourist. My friends and I were in the midst of a tour across some of my favorite monuments, and upon reaching Humayans tomb, I noticed that the archways and ancient walls had transformed. They stood in stark contrast to the rest of our surroundings – bright artificial blue, smooth surfaces, pristine lines. Was this restoration meant to be? My friends and I soon began debating over whether or not these ancient monuments should be restored with a modern identity.

Both sides to the argument had merit.

  • Restoration should be done as it captures the vision of the monument when it was first built.
  • With restored monuments, we travel back in time, seeing the art as the architect intended, before the perils of time had their effect.
  • Fortifications to maintain structural integrity are warranted as it keeps the monuments intact for people to enter and admire.

On the other hand:

  • Restoration feels artificial. Something just feels wrong about applying bright paint on the surface of 500-year-old limestone.
  • Even without reconstruction and paint on the facade, we can still admire the beauty of a monument. Furthermore, the weathered facade carrying the scars of time enables us to feel the history around us.
  • Leaving room for imagination is one of the most amazing things about visiting ancient sites; whereas, renovations can ruin that atmosphere.

On my way home, I began considering how a solution could satisfy both sides of the argument. This would be a feat more attainable with modern day technology. Here, I came up with a simple use case for augmented reality that I think could have profound implications for the ancient wonders of our world.

Sumdar Burj

The concept seems to reply upon the engineering behind the AR features, but a similar result could be achieved without the heavy engineering if, for example, all the images or renders of the monuments from their prime were aggregated into a single source/app. Even including these features in a local tourism agency’s app would be a win-win situation as visitors would benefit while the tourism potential of a city could grow.

Future potential:

  • Gamifying the app e.g. Augmented Reality scavenger hunts at the locations of these sites.
  • Advertising the app to boost tourism: “admire the Humayan’s Tomb in its ancient glory”