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Since Paris Notre Dame was fired on 15 April 2019, concern on restoring it has been arousing. France released architectural competition about the restoration and various singular even outrageous proposals emerges (fig.1), which brings about a new debate whether Notre Dame should be restored to the original appearance or not. In most people’s opinion, Notre Dame doesn’t need to be redesigned in terms of its invaluableness. But complete restoration to previous condition rests upon extremely accurate information, which could be required through heritage digitalization. Fortunately, both private company like Ubisoft and national authorities have carried out the work, which provide possibility to achieve the goal that is to restore Notre Dame.

Fig.1 Proposals of restoring Notre Dame’s roof (Source:

My attention on digital heritage initially originated from a news, a Chinese couple gave “rebirth” to the destroyed Buddha of Bamiyan with lighting technology and also applied 3D laser scanner to the protection of an ancient city, Ur in Iraq, where had been threatened by ISIS. Digitalizing Ur will at least record it for the future generation and be beneficial to academic study. It can be stated that using technology to protect heritage is the best way to fight terrorism, similarly to deal with unexpected accidents, like fire.

Digital heritage, according to UNESCO (2003), “is made up of computer-based materials of enduring value that should be kept for future generations”. What we can learn from the Notre Dame and Ur demonstrates that digital heritage plays an important role in conservation of heritage for descendants. Besides, I would argue that it also contributes to better application and education. For example, digital museum that displays invaluable relics and heritages in virtual way has been worldwide established, where all human beings have the equal access to appreciate and engage with studying them. Furthermore, the scene of Notre Dame in Assasin’s Creed Unity reminds me of a previous workshop on game-driven participatory digital architectural heritage research by Prof. Marc Aurel Schnabel who is an expert in digital heritage in Victoria University of Wellington. The game-based interactive experience can more effectively spread the historical and cultural connotations behind the architectural heritage to the public. Apart from Assasin’s Creed Unity, in the popular treasure adventure game, Tomb Raider, the scene is based on many world-famous buildings, including the Louvre, which enables participants to appreciate and learn the culture of ancient architectural heritage during the game.

Since UNESCO (2009) has stressed the importance of digital heritage, the integration between multiple methods to create digital heritage, as well as the application of digital heritage are worthy of attention and deeper research (Aker & Donaldson, 2018). Through the event of ParisNotre Dame fire, we should think more about precautionary measures on protecting precious heritage as well as advanced methods of maximizing their educational benefit to mankind, while feeling sorry for the huge loss.


[1] Alker, Z. & Donaldson, C., (2018). Digital Heritage. Journal of Victorian Culture, 23(02), pp. 220-221.

[2] Chan, E., (2015). Rebirth of the Buddha of Bamiyan: Chinese millionaires create amazing 175ft hologram of iconic statue deliberately destroyed by the Taliban. [online]. Available at <> [Accessed on 18 May 2019].

[3] Ravenscroft, T., (2019). Seven of the most outrageous proposals for Notre-Dame. [online]. Available at <> [Accessed on 18 May 2019].

[4] UNESCO., (2003). Concept of digital heritage. [online]. Available at <> [Accessed on 18 May 2019].

[5] UNESDOC., (2009). Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage. [pdf]. Available at <> [Accessed on 18 May 2019].

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

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