In the context of the European plattform Time Machine, the question also arises for Vienna of a digital data repository for (art)historical data that can be retrieved in a three-dimensional information system. Regarding the historical city of Vienna (today's Innere Stadt), a source-based interpretation and large-scale reconstruction of the cityscape from the 18th century onwards is possible. Based on existing buildings as well as an increasing number of image data (e.g. reliable historical maps) and written sources of aristocratic, ecclesiastical, urban and civic building activities the imperial capital can be visualized through digital modelling, which – linked to a scientific database – provides a significant gain in knowledge about the urban development and architectural history of Vienna.
The Viennese marketplace Neuer Markt was chosen as a model area to test the extent to which this extensive and diverse stock of sources can be used efficiently for systematic reconstruction work. The structural diversity of Neuer Markt gave rise to an ideal-typical urban space where the high and low nobility, an order (with the imperial family as founder), the magistrate and the bourgeoisie met as builders. The ensemble of Neuer Markt was significantly enriched by the erection of a fountain located in the center (Donnerbrunnen, 1738–1739). The planned re-erection of the original lead figures in the Wien Museum (copies have been on display at Neuer Markt since 1873) has now brought the fountain back into the focus of research.
Despite all the real losses of the building stock, the baroque city of Vienna can be reconstructed very well on the basis of the preserved houses as well as historical images and written sources (land registers, Hofquartiersprotokolle, historical travel guides of Vienna). All materials from the art historical research will be digitized as image and text data and transferred to a newly created PostgreSQL-geodatabase. First, the historical plan material is georeferenced into a nationally valid reference coordinate system. After matching this data set with Open Government Data (OGD) of the City of Vienna, a database object is created for each of the 20 buildings as a main entity with a Universally Unique Identifier (UUID), via which the referenced geometries (from simple 2D polygons to complex 3D objects) as well as the respective image and text data could be linked. Based on the data compiled in the geodatabase, each building object is first digitally reconstructed; these individual models are then merged into the reconstructed square structure of the marketplace to form an overall 3D-scene. In the sense of a feasibility study, the reconstruction of the marketplace around 1760 also serves to test the modeling process for the reconstruction of larger city districts or to create a best-practice model in order to document the expenditure of technical resources in terms of hardware and software requirements as well as the required working hours.
The modelling is conducted through close cooperation between art historical expertise and technical implementation. As the modelling process encompasses both the square and small-scale architectural details, the resulting dialogue inevitably raises questions that have been given little or no consideration in art historical assessment – for example, on actual building heights or on the cubature and spatial relationship of buildings, i.e. on aspects that historical views usually show in an idealised way.
In this sense, the pilot study sets fundamental art historical research in relation to a 3D-visualization, interpreting the process of modelling and its documentation as essential research tools. A first dissemination solution is being developed in cooperation with the Wien Museum, where the digital model is being made accessible to the public for the first time via a dedicated 3D multimedia station as part of the reorganization of the collection in December 2023.
Contact and project leader
Dr. Günther Buchinger
Alarich Langendorf, BA
since September 2021