Historic timber buildings forming essential part of common European cultural heritage and often being protected as irreplaceable monuments have been the selected theme of the project. The actual methods of timber construction differ from country to country, but there are also many similarities, as a result of the specific properties of wood, and by the movement from country to country of skilled carpenters and techniques over the centuries. In order to maintain the carpentry craft skills necessary to repair and restore these historic structures we need to motivate carpentry students to research the different regional traditions and practice these construction techniques, both with hand tools, and within modern CAD environments. As an aid to stimulating a new generation of skilled and motivated carpentry students a team of architects, carpenters, software specialists and educators worked together under the TRAWCOE project to select and research inspiring examples of accessible historic timber buildings in each of the participating countries. Detailed building surveys and research to collate historic information have been brought together under this project to create an innovative teaching resource aimed at Level 3-4 EQF carpentry students. The educational tool includes examples of 3D models of the chosen buildings and allows exploration and discovery of these structures in an informal education context, freely accessible through the world wide web in a simple browser window, without the requirement of using any separate type of CAD software.
The first common task for the the partner organisations was to select a number of historic timber structures typical in each the regions. To meet the TRAWCOE objectives a wide range of different buildings, of varying size, materials, functions were proposed, and then a short-list of the favoured structures evolved to provide a wide range of styles, and thereby demonstrate different carpentry techniques. For each of the chosen timber structures a detailed survey was carried out, and archive information assembled to build both a graphical and text-based collection of material suitable for demonstrating timber construction and decorative techniques. // Educational Team of the TRAWCOE project carried out a deep research and investigation of good practice in informal and non-formal education, and how to adopt a gaming approach to teaching. As a result of educational themes discussed the resource created will also pose challenges for students and vocational trainees to enable to review their understanding of timber building construction methods, architectural and design history while discovering the selected constructions in the virtual environment. // The Technical & Design Team, comprising architects and CAD experts, developed the 3D models from the drawings provided, and in discussion with carpenters, explored how each of the buildings were assembled, so this information could be also incorporated into the resource. Among this it was the team's responsibility to create a detailed design for the resource and to provide the technical feasibility of the aimed targets. To handle the large amount of 3D model information and to share this type of information instantly among partners a BIM Server was set up in Budapest, Hungary and ArchiCAD 17 was selected as common software platform for creation and finalisation of the models. The techincal realisation of the online resource was carried out usingof Unity3D online game engine. // Both educational and technical (design) themes were explained in details in separate concept and final plans till they could form a common set of directives for the final realisation of the technical framework that could be filled with the required type and amount of information accordingly.
The partnership has two final products. Educational aspects were summarised in a study containing all the questions raised as part of the realisation of the tool, titled 'Prototype for Virtual Reality as an Educational Resource' written by Gabor Palotas (EK Association) . While the second one, the educational resource itself was conceived as a separate webpage, titled Play TRAWCOE and hosts 9 Unity levels for 3D models placed into a virtual maquette workshop environment. The tool functioning as a Traditional Carpentry Museum also contains a gallery of selected joint-types, a European map view of the selected constructions and a multi-lingual vocabulary. The project has provided an educationally well-founded and technically working prototype for an online 3d virtual reality resource specifically designed for vocational education and serving good basis for further developments of similar initiatives of the future.
Project meetings were held in Hungary, Spain, Latvia, UK, France and Romania, each for 3 days including with site visits to investigate the European vernacular timber building heritage, and meeting with experts across the range of technical and educational disciplines.