In a few short days, it appears that well over a billion dollars was raised for the restoration of the historic Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. With practically unlimited resources dedicated to rebuilding the cathedral, the most difficult part of the endeavor will be the challenge of ensuring that the restoration is as close to the original as possible.
Luckily, there have been a few near-perfect computer models made of the famous cathedral and these models could serve as blueprints for the restoration crews.
In 2015, an exact digital replica of the building was modeled by the late architectural historian Andrew Tallon. Tallon used lasers to map out the entire cathedral, using a computer to measure the time that it took for each laser to reach its target. The process is further explained in the video below:
In 2014, the iconic cathedral was also digitally mapped by the video game company Ubisoft for their 2014 release Assassins Creed: Unity.
A large team at the company’s Montreal studio worked on the project, but a level designer named Caroline Miousse was the lead engineer on the Notre-Dame Cathedral. After the game was released, Miousse told The Verge that it took her about two years to complete the digital rendition of the building.
“She pored over photos to get the architecture just right, and worked with texture artists to make sure that each brick was as it should be. She even had historians help her figure out the exact paintings that were hanging on the walls,” The Verge reported.
However, there is one part of the digital reconstruction that was not historically accurate and this could actually be a good thing for architects hoping to restore the actual building. Assassin’s Creed: Unity takes place many years before the cathedral’s famous spires were completed, but since the building just wouldn’t look right without them Miousse decided to put them in the game anyway.
In the aftermath of the fire, Ubisoft announced that they will be donating €500,000 towards restoration efforts and give the game away for free for a limited time.
A statement on the company’s website reads:
“As the smoke clears on the events that unfolded on Monday at the Notre-Dame de Paris, we stand in solidarité with our fellow Parisians and everyone around the world moved by the devastation the fire caused. Notre-Dame is an integral part of Paris, a city to which we are deeply connected. Seeing the monument in peril like this affected us all.In light of Monday’s events, we will be donating €500,000 to help with the restoration and reconstruction of the Cathedral.
We encourage all of you who are interested to donate as well. In addition, we want to give everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre-Dame the best way we know how. For one week, we will be giving Assassin’s Creed Unity away free on PC, for anyone who wants to enjoy it. When we created Assassin’s Creed Unity, we developed an even closer connection with this incredible city and its landmarks – one of the most notable elements of the game was the extraordinary recreation of Notre-Dame. Video games can enable us to explore places in ways we never could have otherwise imagined. We hope, with this small gesture, we can provide everyone an opportunity to appreciate our virtual homage to this monumental piece of architecture.”
The Assassin’s Creed series has become famous for digital replicas of ancient spaces, with incredibly precise attention to detail. Assassin’s Creed Origins, one of the more recent offerings in the series, came along with an optional educational mode called the “discovery tour.” In the tour, players wander around a digital replica of ancient Egypt and learn about historical locations without worrying about challenges or enemies.