Chris doing his bit for world history

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A BROUGHTY Ferry man will be taking the lead in an ambitious project to laser scan an Australian landmark.

Architect Chris MacGregor is in charge of the Scottish 10 team which will produce a digital recording of the Sydney Opera House.

The Scottish Ten project is a partnership between Historic Scotland and experts in 3D scanning and visualisation at Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio, plus digital heritage organisation CyArk, and is using cutting edge technology to digitally record all five of Scotland’s world heritage sites and five international sites.

The scanning project will allow unprecedented visual access to the Opera House and supply information for use in maintenance and conservation programmes. The Scottish 10 team has already produced digital recordings of Mount Rushmore, St Kilda, neolithic Orkney, New Lanark, Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, The Rani Ki Vav in India, and the team will shortly begin work at the Eastern Qing Dynasty tombs near Beijing.

Chris said: “I manage the Scottish 10 project and do some of the fieldwork, so I will be outside on top of the Sydney Opera House.

“It’s going to be amazing and it ties in extremely well with our other projects.

“My background is as an architect and so my love of built heritage comes from there.

“Historic Scotland likes to have an extremely accurate and detailed record of their buildings and a very good and fast technique of doing this is to use a laser scanner.

“It’s like one of those laser pointers people use for lectures.”

The digital mapping uses a system called lidar which measure the time difference when bouncing light off an object.

Chris added: “Our scanners are doing that a million times a second. It’s fantastically fast and fantastically accurate.

“Once we have the record we can then start to hang high resolution photos over the point map to create the 3D image.”

The technology is very versatile and scans are taken from every conceivable angle. During the Qing Dynasty project Chris said that a member of the team will be riding a tricycle mounted with a scanner up and down the site.

Chris explained the mission statement behind Scottish 10. He said: “The idea behind Scottish 10 is basically that we are believed and recognised as leading the world in this type of survey work and so we should be telling the world what Scotland has been doing.

“We selected the sites by looking for partners and sites that would work with Scotland. We wanted good relationships with these centres and maintain that relationship over time.”

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings in the world and is a masterpiece of architecture and engineering.

“This is by far the most modern building to be included in the Scottish 10 project and is a contrast to the castles, mills, tombs, Neolithic settlements, wells and sculptures that have come before it - but it will be a fascinating addition, and will further push the team’s skills and expertise.”

Their next Scottish project will be to scan the Antonine Wall.

To find out more about the Scottish 10 project visit