DDS researchers demonstrating the mobile collaborative annotation interface in Lab1 at DDS.

DDS researchers demonstrating the mobile collaborative annotation interface in Lab1 at DDS

Enhancing Engagement with 3D Heritage Data through Semantic Annotation >

The outputs of this project can be downloaded from the project website.


The 1938 British Empire Exhibition was a stunning display of architectural achievement and a reflection of the life and culture of Glasgow, the UK and the Commonwealth. It incorporated over 100 innovative buildings, including the world famous Tait’s Tower and attracted over 12.5million people to Bellahouston Park, Glasgow over its six month run. This last public showcase of the Empire was of huge international significance and continues to be relevant to the study of British social and industrial history and modernist architecture. In 2006, Glasgow School of Art's School of Simulation and Visualisation ran the AHRC-funded "British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow 1938" project which consulted as many sources and individuals as possible in order to build an accurate 3D digital model from which the planning of the Exhibition and its architectural style can be examined. The main output was the production of well researched and constructed, photo-real, 3D models of the principal buildings and structures that comprised the Exhibition together with an accurate 3D map showing the relationship of the various buildings, road and pathways and water features, to the topography of Bellahouston Park. As part of this research, SimVis collected and digitised a large archive of related cultural artefacts (architectural plans, photos, ephemera) and recorded interviews with people who had visited the Exhibition and architecture scholars. Images, videos, and an overview of the 3D model with some interactivity are available on the project website at 

In February 2010, the School of Simulation and Visualisation was successful in winning additional AHRC funding to enhance engagement with this remarkable resource through a new project entitled “Enhancing Engagement with 3D Heritage Data through Semantic Annotation”. The purpose of this project was to combine the experience gained through “The British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow 1938” with the School of Simulation and Visualisation’s considerable expertise in digital documentation and an exceptionally unique real-time visualisation facility in order to enhance access to and engagement with the data gathered for the British Empire Exhibition project and provide an extensible toolkit for researchers to use with other 3D datasets. The project aimed to improve interpretation of the Exhibition by linking, in a meaningful way, the related cultural artefacts on which the 3D model was based with the modelled data itself. In order to achieve this linkage between the 3D data and related information, the School of Simulation and Visualisation developed a tool which allows users to ‘annotate’ the data, and attach those annotations (or files) to points of space within the virtual model, as well as adding relationships between different attached objects (for example, adding notes to architectural features or linking all the photographs taken by a particular photographer). The database of annotations is export-compatible with CIDOC-CRM.

The Enhancing Engagement with 3D Heritage Data through Semantic Annotation project was graded by the AHRC as “An outstanding proposal meeting world-class standards of scholarship, originality, quality and significance”. It allows both researchers and the general public to virtually experience and collaboratively annotate environments which are inaccessible either because they no longer exist or because they are too far away or dangerous to access as well as increasing our understanding of the outstanding achievement of the historic 1938 British Empire Exhibition.