“Digital Twin”: The Italian System that Monitors the Changes of the National Theater of Costa Rica

    This basically consists of a map where movements in the structure are detected, by warning of their severity

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    An identical virtual copy was generated for the foyer of the National Theater, so that the changes suffered by the original structure can be noticed, however minimal they may be. Thus, it is intended to identify possible risks to be able to intervene before major damage appears.

    The project is led by the School of Architecture and Urbanism of the TEC and the Department of Conservation of the Theater. It basically consists of a map where movements in the structure are detected, warning of their severity. “We want to determine if the structure is moving or not, because we have seen that there are ornaments that are running within the same walls of the foyer. So, we want to see if the Theater is moving at a minimum level. For the moment, we are going to determine which are the vulnerability indices that we are going to measure to generate a list of requirements of what the digital twin of the foyer should be like”, explained José Pablo Bulgarelli Bolaños, teacher and researcher at the TEC.

    With this, the vulnerability index will be generated, based on non-invasive tests, which, at the same time, protect the artistic work and gold ornamental elements of the room. By the way, the system allows to measure humidity, temperature and light, to take measurements on the paintings that decorate the area. “For example, on the subject of lighting, determine the amount of lumens with which the foyer is affected. So, when the limits of affectation are being reached, lower the curtains of the Theater or adjust the artificial light in the foyer”, Bulgarelli explained.

    The technological system arose in Milan, Italy. Costa Rica is the first country to implement its use outside of the Italian land. The recovery work is focused on the Foyer, one of the most representative rooms of the National Theater (TEC).

    More protection for the National Theater

    The “digital twin” also serves to detect the affectation in the decoration of the Theater. These are regularly gold plated to replace wear. The TEC researcher explained that the most abused pieces are those that are up to the visitors, who, in general, tend to touch them.

    At the moment different materials are being tested to measure their resistance and similarity to the elements that the National Theater already has. “When the best option is determined, and knowing that people are the element that degrades these pieces the most, we can count how many visitors enter. Thus, for example, if it is determined that when person 325 enters, the object must be given new maintenance; when that number is counted, we close that section of the Theater, apply and reopen it”, said the expert.

    Understanding the theater issue

    With the conservation plan, one line that is sought is to “comprehensively understand” the building, so that specific conservation can be programmed. “For example, if it is known that a building presents problems in each rainy season, specific and periodic actions must be scheduled so that the deterioration is not greater and avoid large intervention processes, which are usually very complex and expensive”, he explains the TEC.

    From the research it is expected to have a conservation protocol that can be replicated in others. On the challenges of these plans, Bulgarelli exposed, first of all, the logistics and funds. “Although monitoring systems can be as simple as checking an object once a month, they can also include very specific sensors. […] The problem with scheduled conservation is that, at this time, few buildings could do it due to the amount of resources required”, he warned.

    Another issue is that Costa Rica does not have a heritage classification. This means that all the buildings declared of interest have the same hierarchy. “It is not the same to generate a scheduled conservation plan for accompanying architecture, such as old wooden houses; than for buildings with structures as complex as the National Theater itself. Although both have historical and architectural value, the complexity is very different”, the institution closed.

    To find out more details about the project that is being implemented, you can consult the article “Proposal for a protocol for the formulation of Programmed Conservation Plans in Costa Rica”, published in the Loggia, Arquitectura & Restauración magazine, of the Polytechnic University of Valencia.

    Resonance Costa Rica
    At Resonance, we aspire to live in harmony with the natural world as a reflection of our gratitude for life. Visit and subscribe at Resonance Costa Rica Youtube Channel
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