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Rebuilding L’Aquila, Italy in Digital 3D with Google SketchUp

On April 6, 2009, a powerful earthquake struck l’Aquila, Italy. Three hundred and eight people died, and most of the buildings in the city center and surrounding areas were damaged or destroyed. About six months ago, Google received an email from a British architect named Barnaby Gunning proposing an ambitious project: to use Google SketchUp to build a digital 3D model of the city, as it’s now, in order to stimulate discussion about its reconstruction.

Google organized a follow-up workshop scheduled for Jan’22-23 at the University of L’Aquila. Seating is limited. Register here if you would like to attend. In addition to supporting a good cause, geo-modelers who join the effort will be awarded a special badge in the Google 3D Warehouse.

To get started, follow these simple steps:

  • Watch these helpful getting started videos
  • Launch Building Maker
  • Select “L’Aquila” from the list of available cities
  • Zoom into the city and find a building of interest. Tip: be sure to avoid buildings that are currently being modeled by others by looking for blue dots.
  • When you’ve finished your model, publish it to 3D Warehouse. If it passes our review, it’ll appear in the 3D Buildings layer of Google Earth within a week or two, depending on the volume of models.

church Santa Maria Paganica in real life (top) and modeled with SketchUp in Google Earth (below).

L'Aquila, Italyin 3D

If you’d like to dive in a little deeper, you can use SketchUp in connection with the many photos and other information on Barnaby’s website. He had already created a website–called Comefacciamo (“What can we do?”)–to contact and organize volunteers.


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