Reconstructing ancient sites is problematic. From inception to implementation, diverse interest groups are consulted, often with opposing opinions. Some may want to increase visitor numbers, while other may want to avoid them all together due to the potentially damaging effects of tourism.

When the decision is made to physically reconstruct a site, it will inevitably be destructive. Sometimes measures are necessary to ensure the survival of a monument, but it often divides opinion. For example, a Spanish castle reconstructed with modern building material caught the ire of the local community. And who could forget the restoration attempt of the Ecce Homo fresco in Boja. Although, this site has now become a tourist attraction, enticing sightseers not likely to have visited before.

The best way to avoid these situations is with digital reconstructive techniques. Virtual reality certainly isn’t destructive. It is the opposite. With VR, a site can be checked and rechecked for inaccuracies. When new information based on current research emerges, it can be altered with ease. And if something does go wrong in the reconstruction, it can be fixed with the click of a button, rather than the roar of the bulldozer.

VR isn’t immune from problems. Digital models need to be curated, just like the physical site, to ensure future generations have access to the information available.

But, VR provides the ability to easily adapt to future resources. It can be constantly updated resulting in the most accurate depiction of the site presented. Instead of disrupting the physical space, VR allows us to re-write the digital space.

Simon Young