Developing Creative Modes of Recording and Visualising Medieval Culture in the Middle East
Unit(s) of assessment: Architecture, Built Environment and Planning
Research theme: Global Heritage: Science, Management and Development
School: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment
Bringing the past back to life
The digitisation of heritage has become central for the preservation of national identity and cultural heritage whilst engaging with and impacting on marginalised communities.
Virtual environments for cultural heritage offer the possibility of interacting with reconstructed historic sites as visitors, tourists, and researchers, raising awareness and encouraging different societal groups to engage with their heritage.
The inaccessibility and high-maintenance nature of technology and training has limited the use of virtual heritage (VH) platforms to save endangered archaeological and heritage sites in the Middle East.
Addressing the Challenge
Bringing medieval culture to (virtual) reality
Professor Abdelmonem led an international research team in an innovative investigation that resulted in the development a conceptual framework for virtual heritage platforms that brings historic buildings back to the recognition of the ordinary user.
The project developed creative techniques for conveying historical narratives, feeding social and cultural influences into digital models that bring meaning, experience and understanding to the sociocultural context.
The team produced the first database of global case studies of virtual heritage platforms that offer a variety of methods, techniques, contexts and outputs that are suitable for different purposes and audiences. It has also undertaken collaborative field projects in medieval Cairo with a wide range of local start-ups, leading to the production of creative virtual heritage models. This project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Professor Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem is Chair in Architecture at the School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment at Nottingham Trent University. He is contributing to teaching Architecture courses and supervision of PGR students.
At The Nottingham Trent University, Gamal is leading the development of the University’s Innovative ‘Global Centre on Heritage Sciences and Management Research’, a research team that aims to engage with and produce strategic research projects with evident global impact on improving Heritage Conservation and preservation strategies on the international and cross boundary levels.
Making a Difference
Leading the way in virtual heritage
Professor Abdelmonem led a series of research events with the participation of pioneering scholars and professionals. These fed into colloquiums and training workshops that trained over 40 young professionals and entrepreneurs in advanced techniques and applications of virtual heritage. A series of research and technical reports were produced to support the intellectual foundation of virtual heritage in the Middle East.
Professor Abdelmonem’s team mentored and supervised the production of virtual heritage environments for five distinctive historic sites and monuments in medieval Cairo. The project has generated the first database of virtual heritage small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Egypt, produced a best-practice manual on virtual heritage, and authored the first government policy document on the governance of virtual heritage in Egypt and the Middle East.
Professor Abdelmonem organised and chaired the first-ever international conference on virtual heritage in the region in February 2017. A special issue of the International Journal of Architectural Research is documenting the project and its associated outputs.