Getting the picture in glorious 3D at bridges

First Minister Alex Salmond with Queensferry schoolchildren
First Minister Alex Salmond with Queensferry schoolchildren

A £300,000 innovative project will see every detail of the three major bridges over the River Forth digitally mapped and scanned.

First Minister Alex Salmond announced the news during a visit to the bridges on Wednesday.

The aim is to record the bridges’ engineering excellence for future generations.

Representing three centuries of Scottish engineering, innovation and design, the bridges will be digitally mapped using laser technology used previously by the Scottish Ten initiative.

The First Minister made the announcement at a visit to the Forth Replacement Crossing Contact and Education Centre in South Queensferry.

He said: “The Forth bridges represent Scotland’s industrial past, creative present and our dynamic and innovative future.

“They are the pinnacle of world leading design and engineering.

“Therefore, it is only right that we do all that we can to conserve and protect them for future generations.

“This exciting new project will not only help to create an extremely accurate record for the conservation and management of the bridges but will also provide digital content from which it will be possible to provide animations, fly-throughs and basic education materials that will help inspire our next generation of Scottish engineers.

“The bridges are iconic landmarks in Scotland and these digital images will no doubt help to showcase their magnificence and attract tourists from across the globe.”

The project will begin in 2015 and will be carried out by the Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation (CDDV), a collaboration between heritage specialists at Historic Scotland and experts in 3D visualisation at The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio.

The digital content from the project will be shared across all of Scotland’s primary schools.

And to help launch the event on Wednesday, pupils from Dalmeny and St Margaret’s primaries in Queensferry brought along their own models of the Forth bridges.

Dr Paul Chapman, deputy director of the Digital Design Studio of The Glasgow School of Art, said: “We are proud to be part of this exciting and challenging project.

“Our previous portfolio of projects, including many joint ventures with our long term partner Historic Scotland, has provided us with the necessary experience and capability to undertake the digital documentation of these extremely complex structures using laser scanning and other cutting edge technologies.”

Funding for the project is being provided by the Scottish Government through Transport Scotland.

It will be managed by Historic Scotland, delivered by CDDV LLP and overseen by the Forth Bridges Forum.

Historic Scotland’s head of major projects Chris McGregor added: “This is a fantastic opportunity, both to showcase the three bridges in all their engineering glory and to apply the latest digital surveying technologies in the most challenging of circumstances.

“Recording these inspiring bridges, each from a different century, will allow us to use technologies originally designed to survey modern industrial complexes to record and analyse historic engineering structures in extraordinary detail and to help us maintain and interpret them for future generations.”.