Sydney Opera House to be digitally recorded by Scottish team

22 October 2012

One of the world’s most iconic buildings is to be digitally recorded for future generations by a team from Scotland.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop today (October 22nd) announced that Sydney Opera House will be the fourth international site to be digitally scanned by the Scottish Ten team.

The Scottish Ten project - a partnership between Historic Scotland and experts in 3D scanning and visualisation at Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio, plus digital heritage organisation CyArk - is using cutting edge technology to digitally record all five of Scotland’s world heritage sites and five international sites.

The scanning project will allow unprecedented visual access to the Opera House and supply information for use in maintenance and conservation programmes.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings in the world and is a masterpiece of architecture and engineering.

“By bringing together Historic Scotland’s deep understanding of heritage and the expertise in 3D visualisation at the Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio, Scotland has created a world-leading digital documentation project in the Scottish Ten.

“This will be the most detailed digital recording of the Opera House ever attempted. It will present entirely new challenges for the Scottish Ten team, who have already completed projects at vast and complex sites in the USA and India, and will soon visit China.

“This is by far the most modern building to be included in the Scottish Ten project and is a contrast to the castles, mills, tombs, Neolithic settlements, wells and sculptures that have come before it - but it will be a fascinating addition, and will further push the team’s skills and expertise.”

The announcement was made at the DigiDoc 2012, an international digital documentation conference organised by Historic Scotland, Glasgow School of Art and CyArk, to explore all advanced forms of digital media and data capture for a variety of applications in heritage contexts and beyond. Representatives from Australia, including Greg McTaggart, director of building development and maintenance at Sydney Opera House, and Bob Leece, Opera House Trustee, were present for the announcement.

Welcoming the news, Australian Heritage Minister Tony Burke said: “The Australian Government is delighted that the World Heritage listed Sydney Opera House is to be part of the Scottish Ten project. The Sydney Opera House is not just a symbol of Australia’s cultural and artistic excellence, to many it is also a symbol of Australia itself.

“The Scottish Ten project will provide us and the Sydney Opera House Trust with extraordinary insights into one of our most well known buildings, and provide invaluable information and perhaps a new way of looking at the place.

“On behalf of the Australian Government, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Historic Scotland, and the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop, for selecting the Sydney Opera House, and giving us the opportunity to be involved in this remarkable project.”

Australian Minister for the Arts, George Souris said: “The New South Wales Government is delighted that Sydney Opera House has been selected for this innovative, international project. It recognises how highly the international community values our nation’s most celebrated architectural site.

“The world-leading expertise and technology of the Scottish Ten team will be of great benefit to Sydney Opera House in its ongoing conservation and maintenance. On behalf of the New South Wales Government, I would like to thank the Scottish Government for selecting Sydney Opera House to be involved in this exciting project.”

The Scottish Ten team has already recorded the presidential heads at Mount Rushmore in the United States and Rani Ki Vav, the Queen’s Stepwell in India, and is preparing to scan the Eastern Qing Tombs, part of the Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties World Heritage Site in Beijing, China.

The Scottish Ten initiative showcases the use of latest digital documentation and visualisation technology, and allows the creation of a digital archive of sites, helping with conservation and providing virtual access to often inaccessible areas.

Through these initiatives, Historic Scotland is promoting Scottish innovation around the world, co-ordinating all the Scottish Ten site work, and improving international relationships

To find out more visit The progress of the project can also be followed on

Notes for editors:

  • The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is internationally recognised as one of Europe's foremost higher education institutions for creative education and research in fine art, design and architecture. The Digital Design Studio (DDS) is a world leading research and postgraduate centre of the GSA specialising in 3D digital visualisation and interaction technologies. It combines academic, research and commercial activities. The experts at the Digital Design Studio are currently creating the 3D scans for the widely admired Scottish Ten, as a partner in the CDDV. Other areas of DDS research include ground-breaking medical and marine visualization, and auralisation and sound.

  • CyArk is a non-profit entity whose mission is to digitally preserve cultural heritage sites through collecting, archiving and providing open access to data created by laser scanning, digital modelling, and other state-of-the-art technologies. For more information visit

  • The Centre for Digital Documentation and Visualisation, a partnership between Historic Scotland and The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio, was created by the Scottish Government to carry out the Scottish Ten project. This ambitious five-year project will digitally record the five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Scotland and five international sites. For more information, visit

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  • The Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at:

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David Gray
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Communications and Media
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