< Back to previous page


Phygital Heritage: Communicating Built Heritage Information through the Integration of Digital Technology into Physical Reality

Built heritage forms a unique asset by expressing the richness and diversity of our history, possessing vast amounts of information that varies from factual and explicit, to more tacit and embedded. Tacit knowledge of built heritage is typically more challenging to communicate to visitors in understandable and engaging ways due to its implicit and abstract character. Therefore, we investigate how built heritage information can be disclosed via simultaneous and integrated physical and digital means, and how this information can be communicated to visitors in more engaging, educational and meaningful ways. In this thesis we present the approach of “Phygital Heritage”, which entails how heritage information can be disclosed via simultaneous and integrated physical and digital means. We hypothesize that this approach forms a potential medium for more engaging and meaningful communication of heritage information to a broader public. It even enables heritage visitors to appreciate heritage in more experiential ways, and to raise community awareness about heritage assets.

Through a set of in-the-wild studies, in which interactive phygital prototypes were designed and deployed in real-world heritage and museum environments, we explore how the seamless integration of digital technology into physical reality facilitates the communication of built heritage information to museum visitors and how it affects user engagement. 

In Saqqara Entrance Colonnade, through a between-group comparative study in a real-world museum context, we examined how the tangible characteristics of an interactive museum prototype influence how visitors understand tacit knowledge of built heritage;

In Nimrud Relief, through a field study in a real-world museum environment, we investigated how an augmented reality experience impacts the architectural contextualization of an isolated artifact from the Nimrud palace in Iraq;

In Graethem Chapel, through an in-the-wild study, we investigated how an in-situ interactive projection mapping enables the communication of the spatiotemporal transformation of a medieval chapel that occurred during the last 850 years; and

In Neferirtenef Tomb-Chapel, through a field study in a real-world museum environment, we investigated how a tangible gamification installation supports informal cultural learning of young museum visitors and how it encourages collaboration among them.

In summary, this thesis contributes to the knowledge about the communication of built heritage information by demonstrating how this information can be disclosed via simultaneous and integrated physical and digital means, enabling the broader public to appreciate heritage in more experiential ways.

Date:12 Jan 2015  →  19 Jun 2019
Keywords:Tangible interaction, Heritage communication, Digital heritage
Disciplines:Architectural engineering, Architecture, Interior architecture, Architectural design, Art studies and sciences
Project type:PhD project