The all nighter

In the olden days of architecture, model making was all the rage with balsa wood, posh cardboard and dangerously sharp scalpels. These would combine the night before any university deadline into a whirlwind of cut fingers, glue and frustration to form intricate scale representations of ideas and dreams. Now it’s obviously all computer aided design which our lovely Architects have used to bring our house beautifully to life. We have however continued to dabble in the old ways with our lockdown model Tin Barn and, in a high tech twist the lovely 3D printed version our friend made for us. Excitingly, we have also just recently discovered a new way of visualising our emerging home.

Having owned the iPad for a little over 18 months I discovered it boasts a LiDAR sensor. LiDAR is a technique which uses a laser to scan the world around it, each time taking hundreds of measures. The sensor can’t see through objects but if you move the LiDAR scanner (ie the iPAD) around you can scan a three dimensional object or space to build a 3D computer model.

Years ago the hardware and software required to do this would have cost tens of thousands of pounds. Now it’s an, admittedly reasonably expensive, iPAD and some free software downloaded in a matter of seconds. Not exactly sure what resolution the LiDAR sensor is, nor how to get the best from it, but it seems pretty good right out of the box.

Inspired by my discovery and endless repeats of the Matrix, I popped up to site and spent 10 minutes doing some scans of our new house. To build a the 3D model you wave the iPad around for a few minutes and the magic imps do the rest. While the results look a bit like the building has burnt down, not sure why, overall they look pretty accurate.

The models may not load properly on older phones or tablets but newer devices and computers should be OK. Use your fingers or mouse as appropriate to zoom in or change your view point.

While not perfect you can see the kitchen / dining room coming together including the timber frame of the pantry and plant room. If you look up at the ceiling you can see the first floor joists, insulation, pipes and electrical cables. The scanner also took in some of the stairwell and first floor including the curved Tin Barn ceiling. I might get better detail if I scan more slowly, so that’s something for me to try next time.

The Stone Barn model shows the outside stonework and inside the green pro-passive board (air tight plasterboard), blue tape and white air tight membrane. The roof joists are also visible although these haven’t scanned brilliantly so look slightly odd from some angles!

Meanwhile I wonder what else the iPad can do … ?


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