AUGMENTED REALITY FOR CULTURAL HERITAGE: THE REBIRTH OF A HISTORICAL SQUARE
The case study, faced in this paper, arises in the context of Interreg Italia-Malta European project named I-Access, dedicated to the improvement of accessibility to Cultural Heritage (CH). Accessibility considered not only as the demolition of physical architectural barriers, but also as the possibility of fruition of CH through technological tools that can increase its perception and knowledge. Last achievements in photogrammetry and terrestrial laser scanner (TLS) technology offered new methods of data acquisition in the field of CH, giving the possibility of monitoring and processing big data, in the form of point clouds. Ever in this field, reverse engineering techniques and computer graphics are even more used for involving visitors to discover CH, with navigation into 3D reconstructions, empowering the real visualization adding further 3D information through the Augmented Reality (AR). At the same time, recent advances on rapid prototyping technologies grant the automated 3D printing of scaled 3D model reconstructions of real CH elements allowing the tactile fruition of visitors that suffer from visual defects and the connection with 3D AR visualizations. The presented work shows how these technologies could revive an historical square, the Piazza Garraffo in Palermo (Italy), with the virtual insertion of its baroque fountain, originally placed there. The final products of this work are an indoor and an outdoor AR mobile application, that allow the visualization of the historical original asset of the square. This study case shows how the mixing of AR and the rapid prototyping technologies could be useful for the improvement of the fruition of CH. This work could be considered a multidisciplinary experimentation, where different technologies, today still in development, contribute to the same goal aimed at improving the accessibility of the monument for enhancing the fruition of CH.