Constructive analysis and digital 3D reconstruction of the Yuanmingyuan Ruins: Wanfanganhe Pavilion (China)




3D reconstruction, traditional Chinese architecture, wooden structures, Old Summer Palace, digital restoration, archaeological heritage


The destruction of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing after the sacking by Franco-British troops in 1860 has been an inestimable loss in the history of architecture, described by several authors as one of the wonders of Chinese architecture.

This paper presents the virtual reconstruction and geometrical analysis of the Universal Peace Pavilion for the Ancient Palace of Beijing. It is a unique project in the traditional Chinese architecture both in its form and in the combination of the wooden structural elements. At the present time, only the foundation platform remains.

In order to achieve a rigorous and accurate reconstruction, original sources from China and the Forbidden City Museum have been used, translating the ancient Chinese texts of the Qing dynasty and compiling the original existing documentation. The results include new unpublished documentation of the project.

The reconstruction of the Universal Peace Pavilion continues the efforts made by the "Mission Palais d'Eté" (Summer Palace Mission) between 1983 and 1985, carried out by the cooperation of French and Chinese researchers and architects. Recently, the "Cooperans" institution has resumed the research of the Old Summer Palace in order to strengthen the cultural links between Europe and China.

The digital reconstruction of the project makes it possible to visualize, analyse and understand a project of which only its ruins remain. By documenting the remains of the ancient ruins and exporting the Wanfanganhe Pavilion to a virtual reality system, it is possible to establish a link between Chinese architecture and the interested people, breaking down language barriers. The process of measuring, 3D modelling and translating the fundamental elements of traditional Chinese architecture has been carried out with precision to generate a model that represents an unforgettable part of the Chinese history. 


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Author Biographies

Yan Chen, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Department of Architectural Construction and Technology. ETS Architecture of Madrid. Postgraduate student doing doctoral research on 3D reconstruction of archaeological ruins and traditional Chinese architecture.

Federico Luis del Blanco García, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Department of Architectural Construction and Technology. ETS Architecture of Madrid. Assistant Professor PhD. Specialist in virtual reality, parametric design and coordinator of the BIM workshops.


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How to Cite

Chen, Y., & del Blanco García, F. L. (2022). Constructive analysis and digital 3D reconstruction of the Yuanmingyuan Ruins: Wanfanganhe Pavilion (China). Virtual Archaeology Review, 13(27), 1–16.