Centenary Celebration

By Chen Jia (China Daily)

Updated: 2010-09-20 08:00

BEIJING - A 3D virtual reconstruction of Yuanmingyuan, or the Old Summer Palace, enables visitors to see what it looked like before it fell to ruin, experts said on Saturday.

The first group of 146 photos and 22 video clips depicting Yuanmingyuan are already available on the website www.re-relic.com, following a joint project launched in April 2009 by Tsinghua University and the management office of Yuanmingyuan.

The project, Digital Yuanmingyuan, set out to rebuild the ancient imperial park with the use of virtual technology and by digitizing historical material about the park, according to researchers at the university.

While the first batch of material has been posted online, the project has yet to be completed. The researchers said they hope that Digital Yuanmingyuan will be developed by Oct 18 to mark the 150th anniversary of the park's destruction by the British and French armies, Beijing News reported on Sunday.

According to the management office of Yuanmingyuan, the digital reconstruction will be further expanded, incorporating drawings, photographs, historical records and archaeological findings, along with information gathered overseas by scholars and researchers.

Digital Yuanmingyuan will be an open platform that will make use of the latest advances in opto-electrical and sound technologies to engage viewers, an official of the management office, who declined to be named, told China Daily on Sunday.

"The earliest general layout of Yuanmingyuan will be available to the public for the first time," Guo Daiheng, a professor of architecture at Tsinghua University, was quoted by Beijing News as having said.

The images and videos uploaded onto the site represent more than 16 months of work and cover one-fifth of the park, said He Yan, deputy director of Tsinghua Urban Planning and Design Institute.

Great attention has been paid to detail and, in some cases, the reconstruction is 95 percent faithful to the original, according to the project team.

Since 2005, cultural relics departments in China have been compiling information on endangered heritage sites for a digital archive, including 1,271 sites that are under national protection, according to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

China Daily