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Procedural Modeling of Buildings Composed of Arbitrarily-Shaped Floor-Plans: Background, Progress, Contributions and Challenges of a Methodology Oriented to Cultural Heritage

1
Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC-TEC---Formerly INESC Porto), 4200-465 Porto, Portugal
2
Department of Engineering, School of Sciences and Technology, University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, 5000-801~Vila~Real, Portugal
3
ALGORITMI Center, University of Minho, 4800-058 Guimarães, Portugal
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Computers 2019, 8(2), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/computers8020038
Received: 14 March 2019 / Revised: 21 April 2019 / Accepted: 29 April 2019 / Published: 11 May 2019
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Abstract

Virtual models' production is of high pertinence in research and business fields such as architecture, archeology, or video games, whose requirements might range between expeditious virtual building generation for extensively populating computer-based synthesized environments and hypothesis testing through digital reconstructions. There are some known approaches to achieve the production/reconstruction of virtual models, namely digital settlements and buildings. Manual modeling requires highly-skilled manpower and a considerable amount of time to achieve the desired digital contents, in a process composed by many stages that are typically repeated over time. Both image-based and range scanning approaches are more suitable for digital preservation of well-conserved structures. However, they usually require trained human resources to prepare field operations and manipulate expensive equipment (e.g., 3D scanners) and advanced software tools (e.g., photogrammetric applications). To tackle the issues presented by previous approaches, a class of cost-effective, efficient, and scarce-data-tolerant techniques/methods, known as procedural modeling, has been developed aiming at the semi- or fully-automatic production of virtual environments composed of hollow buildings exclusively represented by outer façades or traversable buildings with interiors, either for expeditious generation or reconstruction. Despite the many achievements of the existing procedural modeling approaches, the production of virtual buildings with both interiors and exteriors composed by non-rectangular shapes (convex or concave n-gons) at the floor-plan level is still seldomly addressed. Therefore, a methodology (and respective system) capable of semi-automatically producing ontology-based traversable buildings composed of arbitrarily-shaped floor-plans has been proposed and continuously developed, and is under analysis in this paper, along with its contributions towards the accomplishment of other virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) projects/works oriented to digital applications for cultural heritage. Recent roof production-related enhancements resorting to the well-established straight skeleton approach are also addressed, as well as forthcoming challenges. The aim is to consolidate this procedural modeling methodology as a valuable computer graphics work and discuss its future~directions.
Keywords: procedural modeling; procedural generation; building ontology; building modeling; virtual traversable building; ontology-based grammar; arbitrary shapes; fake-concave; virtual reality; augmented reality; cultural heritage; Roman architecture; Roman style; computer-aided design procedural modeling; procedural generation; building ontology; building modeling; virtual traversable building; ontology-based grammar; arbitrary shapes; fake-concave; virtual reality; augmented reality; cultural heritage; Roman architecture; Roman style; computer-aided design
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Adão, T.; Pádua, L.; Marques, P.; Sousa, J.J.; Peres, E.; Magalhães, L. Procedural Modeling of Buildings Composed of Arbitrarily-Shaped Floor-Plans: Background, Progress, Contributions and Challenges of a Methodology Oriented to Cultural Heritage. Computers 2019, 8, 38.

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