Dominik LENGYEL | Catherine TOULOUSE
(BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg, Cottbus, Germany)

Keywords: visualisation uncertainty knowledge hypotheses design

During the Counterreformation, in the early seventeenth century, the archbishop of Würzburg, Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn, built several hundred village churches, that follow a common principle, that by itself has never been realized due to the varying preconditions. Prof. Dr. Barbara Schock-Werner, the former master builder of Cologne Cathedral, verbally described this hypothetical ideal church in her habilitation treatise.
The project demonstrated in this paper describes not only how the ideal church has been translated from the verbal into a virtually modeled state, but also its mediation to the public by an interactive Virtual Reality experience introduced by a narrative film and a physical model.
In the first phase of the interaction the operator composes Echter churches from a given set of building parts by identifying, selecting, arranging and orienting these parts with special controllers that represent his hands. The objects are represented in the common model scale 1:100 and seem to behave physically correct. This way, handling and behavior encourage the operator to experiment. When the operator successfully composes a church’s volumes, he is forwarded to an original scale model that allows to walk around the churches, the ideal church also from the inside.
It is one of the specific strengths of Virtual Reality not only to simulate space and interact with it, but to deliberately switch between different states, e. g. scales, levels of details or, most important, abstraction – just as in images or texts. Particularly abstraction, if carefully designed, allows to demonstrate, explain, illustrate and understand concepts that otherwise can only be perceived subtly.
The project has been realized for the exhibition „Julius Echter. Patron der Künste. Konturen eines Fürsten und Bischofs der Renaissance“, exhibited in the University of Würzburg’s Martin von Wagner Museum in the Würzburg Residence from June 25 to September 24, 2017.

Relevance for the conference: The paper shows how abstraction in interactive VR is the next step in mediating hypotheses in cultural heritage.
Relevance for the session: VR demands a different canon of represetations even if in consequence of image based representation.
Innovation: The demonstrated VR experiences unveils there potential to enhance spatial simulation by in multi-dimensional explorations through differents states.

  • Lengyel, Dominik; Toulouse, Catherine (Hg.) (2015): Die Bedeutung architektonischer Gestaltung in der visuellen Vermittlung wissenschaftlicher Unschärfe. In: Jahrestagung Digital Humanities im deutschsprachigen Raum DHd, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz 2015. (Url:
  • Lengyel, Dominik; Toulouse, Catherine (2013). Die Bauphasen des Kölner Domes und seiner Vorgängerbauten: Gestaltung zwischen Architektur und Diagrammatik, in: Dietrich Boschung, Julian Jachman (Hg.), Diagrammatik der Architektur, Tagungsband Internationales Kolleg Morphomata der Universität zu Köln. Verlag Wilhelm Fink, Paderborn. ISBN 978-3-7705-5520-8