Natural Sciences
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Scientific Computing
Scientific Computing

John Sanday, Global Heritage Fund's Regional Director Asia, Cambodia and Nepal

Centre for Organismal Studies, Seminar Room 005, Im Neuenheimer Feld 230

Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing IWR

John Sanday, Conservation Architect, who has spent the last 45 years working in Asia, worked for at least 20 of those years in Cambodia. Arriving for the first time in Siem Reap in 1989, he and his team pioneered the first project, the Preah Khan Conservation Training Project which was supported by the World Monuments Fund. The Khmer Rouge disturbances were still evident in Angkor as the fast-growing sub-tropical jungle, which engulfed the partially ruined monuments provided an ideal hiding place for the Khmer Rouge militia. John’s early memories were of the skirmishes still taking place on the outskirts of the historic city of Angkor and the sounds of explosions and gunfire – it was indeed a memorable start to several decades of working in one of the largest monumental cities of its time, which was later to be placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. John will briefly describe his early days of setting up the first major conservation training programme in the 12th Century Buddhist monastic complex. As many of you will be able to recall the time we have spent together in Angkor, I will take this opportunity to describe some of the problems we had to face and the techniques we developed in Preah Khan and three other sites in Angkor to conserve the structures with minimal intervention. There will be plenty of illustrations showing Angkor as John found it in the 1990’s and it will provide an excuse and set the background for him to side track to another Khmer style site in the far North of Cambodia. Banteay Chhmar, one of the great Khmer sites, is closely linked to Angkor despite it being about 100km to its north. This 12th Century site, which is stylistically emulates the temples in Angkor of the Bayon period, is my link with IWR as it was the birth of an extraordinary project which Professor Georg Bock and had been fantasizing for many years trying to link heritage conservation with applied mathematics. We found a way of using ‘start of the art’ technology to digitally reconstruct a section of exquisite bas relief carvings on a stone enclosure wall which enclosed the temple complex known as Banteay Chhmar. This project need careful measurement and digital recreation of the fallen sections as the first step to their reconstruction following a highly sensitive conservation intervention to protect the decorative stone carvings. The Bas Relief Wall measures 1,400 metres in length of which 75% has collapsed. Similarly, a free-standing sandstone tower supporting four carved images of, possibly the king or maybe the Buddha, measuring approximately 15 metres high, was threatening imminent collapse. These two different architectural elements were selected to test a system for digital re-assembly. A section of the enclosure wall was selected. Each stone in was measured and referenced. Missing stones were located and the decorative stones were carefully dismantled and each stone was scanned. A process was also developed for the consolidation and cleaning of these masterpieces ready for reconstruction. Drawings of the Tower were prepared referenced and carefully dismantled and each stone was scanned. John will describe the system which IWR developed to solve “John’s Puzzle”, Khmer architect Dr. Peakdey Nguonphan and Dr. Ann from Germany headed up the team which developed the digital technology. As a result of this multi-disciplinary research and along with support from many of the IWR teaching staff, the stones began to recognize their original positions in the structures and along with the knowledge and experience of the Khmer stone masons who had worked with us in Preah Khan, progress was made. I will explain the full process with illustrations. Time will be allocated for questions and discussions.

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