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VR technology restores glory of Old Summer Palace

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Summer Palace, Beijing, China CREDIT: People's Daily

Summer Palace, Beijing, China CREDIT: People’s Daily

After 15 years of preparation, a Chinese research group has restored the original appearance of the renowned Old Summer Palace using virtual reality (VR) technology, allowing visitors to enjoy the imperial palace’s former glory.

“Our team has restored 60 percent of the palace’s original appearance. The restoration is based on historical documents we collected, which can accurately showcase the original features of the architecture. As for the rest of the palace, restoration work cannot be carried out due to a lack of data,” Guo Daiheng, a senior architect and professor at the School of Architecture of China’s Tsinghua University, told the Beijing Times.

Guo and her team of 80 researchers have been working on rebuilding the Old Summer Palace over the past 15 years. They have looked up over 10,000 historical files, completing 4,000 drawings and 2,000 digital models.

“The digital restoration of each piece of architecture requires at least 10 steps. The appearances of some structures changed seven times during the reign of five emperors, and we have included all the changes in our work,” said Guo.

Thanks to digital restoration, visitors can now enjoy the former scenery of the palace through the use of VR gear. Several hundred thousand visitors have used the technology so far, which only costs 30 RMB to rent, the Beijing Times reported.

The Old Summer Palace, or Yuanmingyuan in Mandarin, was the “Garden of Gardens” before it was torched by British and French invaders in 1860.

Widely viewed as the pinnacle of Chinese imperial garden and palace design, the Old Summer Palace was a wonder to behold, known for its extensive gardens, its grand architecture and numerous artistic and historical treasures.

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