Gamification and preservation of Islamic Architecture in Cairo

This project is intended to create a digital archive of Islamic architecture in Cairo in attempt to preserve the cultural heritage and the usage of its elements in creating an educational card game that depends on augmented reality technique or as game assets in any other historical 3d games.

It all started with the demolition of the Mamluk Cemeteries in Cairo, which were considered an important part of the cultural Heritage, they were in the way of Egypt’s 2050 development plan.

Demolishing of Mamluk Cemetery in Cairo, Egypt

I wanted to create 3d models of the historical buildings using photogrammetry technique in attempt to preserve them digitally and allow their usage in various applications. However there wasn’t enough data (images) found online for them that could be used to create the 3d models, I then contacted professor Matreen Mohamed in Architectural heritage and construction in Egypt as she had conducted site visits to the place before but unfortunately the images I had acquired from her were neither enough nor sequential so again I couldn’t use them to create photogrammetry models.

Sample of the images I acquired from Professor Matreen

Then I thought that if I failed to preserve something that’s no longer there maybe I should start preserving and archiving things that still exists so I have conducted a site visit to Bayt Al-Suhaymi which is an icon in Fatemi era Islamic Architecture. Initially I tried to use photogrammetry to create 3d models of the various rooms there to archive them and and use them as game environments later on using reality capture, meshroom and Kiri Engine software but I was not happy with the quality of the final models.

Sample of the interior photogrammetry models I created of Bayt-Al Suhaymi using meshroom , reality capture and Kiri Engine

Despite the fact that the interior 3d models was not in quality that enables the preservation of the architecture nor their re-usage in anything I have noticed that the smaller elements within the interior itself like: the table at the middle in the bottom photo, the chair on the first photo on the left…etc. were actually of good quality. So I tried again creating photogrammetry models of smaller elements and the output was actually better. (I was experimenting with the different photogrammetry engines and decided to use Kiri engine as my main software)

What I have learnt and noticed while creating the models is that if I am taking photos of elements while I am in the middle and the object surrounds me ( in case of the interiors), the photogrammetry process was not so successful, not sure if it’s because of my camera’s field of view, inappropriate camera angle considering the room scale.

illustration of my position ( camera position )with respect to the environment/object to be used for photogrammetry.

However when When I am capturing photos of an object that I can rotate around/outside of it the quality was actually much better.

illustration of my position ( camera position )with respect to the environment/object to be used for photogrammetry.

In the future I would like to try taking more photos of the interior or try creating panoramic images or maybe extract images/frames from a video and then use them in the photogrammetry to see the result.

I have Uploaded the models of various architectural elements I have created on sketch fab platform.

Rendered Image of mashrabya/window in Bayt -Al-Suhaymi

Link to sketch fab 3d model:

https://skfb.ly/ox6WY

Rendered image of a well found in Bayt -Al-Suhaymi Court

Link to sketch fab 3d model:

https://skfb.ly/oxnXH

Rendered image of a fountain found in one of Bayt -Al-Suhaymi rooms

Link to sketch fab 3d model:

https://skfb.ly/ox6Ou

Rendered Image of a chair in Bayt -Al-Suhaymi

Link to sketch fab 3d model:

https://skfb.ly/ox6WW

Rendered Image of a table in Bayt -Al-Suhaymi

Link to sketch fab 3d model:

https://skfb.ly/ox6Zn

Shaded sitting area ( dome at the top) in the open court of Bayt -Al-Suhaymi

Link to sketch fab 3d model:

https://skfb.ly/ox6UH

I have tried to add both Arabic and English description to the sketch fab model but I was limited by the character no so I had to add Arabic

The image on the left represents the first card of an educational card game that depends on augmented reality technique, meaning upon scanning a 3d model ( created from photogrammetry) appears with annotations that provide information about the architectural/cultural heritage element.

To activate the card on the left…..download artivive mobile app and scan it to reveal the hidden 3d model and text.

P.S

you have to be connected to the internet to activate the app

The picture on the left represents a screenshot of the AR card output with the educational text pointing to the structural elements

For future work I might modify the text color to make it easier to read. and make the whole visualization more comfortable to the eyes.

Conclusion:

It’s important to try to preserve our cultural heritage because no one knows what could happen in the future

Even though photogrammetry technique worked better on objects for me I still would like to try it in a room but with increasing the number of photos I use

The idea of gamification and augmented reality in culture heritage is definitely interesting and I would like to explore it more. I think it would do wonders in the educational field. Maybe the game won’t only consist of information about various architectural/heritage elements but maybe specific tools can be added to card to educate people about the restoration and renovation of old buildings, maybe the card game will consist of damaged artifacts/ cultural heritage elements and the tools and steps to fix them and the players need to match them together. Another thing is I would also like to work on creating low poly models that can be used as assets for creating 3d video games.