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How the original Bank of England building is being brought back to life

Nearly a century ago Sir John Soane’s Bank of England was destroyed to make way for renovations. Regarded as one of the greatest architectural losses of the 20th century, Soane’s Bank of England was upheld as a masterpiece, demonstrating spectacular use of natural light and scale. It was the life work of Sir John Soane who revolutionised the architectural world, receiving a knighthood for his work from King William IV. Today, HP has been leading a crowdsourced project bringing together technology leaders, architecture professionals, and members of the public to digitally rebuild Soane’s Bank of England.

Could you tell me more about the Soane project?

This has been a really fascinating project for us. The destruction of Soane’s Bank of England was such a tragedy for architecture; resurrecting it is a great way to showcase what can be achieved with today’s technology. We’ve brought together a number of market leading partners including NVIDIA, Autodesk, CGarchitect and Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA), who all provided expertise to help make this happen.

Tell me more about the first stage of the project - the creation of the reference kits - how was it done?

The goal of the first stage of the project was to model Soane’s Bank of England using modern Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology. Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) curated the original Soane’s Bank of England drawings, which have been preserved by The Sir John Soane Museum. RAMSA focused their efforts on the building facades and two interior rooms, and the team created templates rooms (empty shells) for the facades using Autodesk Revit software.

This was a crowdsourced project, why was it done that way and what did it add to the project?

The architectural community was then invited to a global crowdsourcing effort to recreate these rooms and facades by referencing Soane’s original drawings (curated by RAMSA), and recreating the drawings with Autodesk Revit. Nearly 500 architects from all over the world joined the special Project Autodesk A360 portal to collaborate on this project, and completed the BIM re-creation of the designated rooms and facades.

And how about the second stage, how does that work?

Now that we have the models from the first stage, we’re inviting the public to take part by simply rendering these models. Entrants to the competition can download the models from and render them with the Autodesk software of their choice

Why should people enter the competition?

First and foremost it’s a really exciting project giving people the chance to recreate history. But also, on top of that there’s £21,000 worth of prizes on offer across the award categories, including a HP Z840 Workstation, our most powerful workstation which can handle the kind of demanding work that architects, designers, and the creative community are facing on a day to day basis.

Why did HP decide to lead the project?

It’s something that’s never been done before and a great demonstration of how well HP, NVIDIA, and Autodesk technology works together to tackle huge and complex projects, and how closely our three companies work together on technology projects. It’s also a very meaningful use of our capabilities and resources.

What’s HP’s role in the architecture sector?

HP’s workstation technology is designed with the needs of architects, engineers, and creative professionals in mind. Our HP Z Workstations and ZBoook Mobile Workstations, for example, offer performance, reliability, Autodesk software certifications and NVIDIA Quadro professional graphics technology to accelerate BIM workflows. HP Z Workstations perform very efficiently under the stress of heavy workloads and limit downtime, which is especially important for complex BIM projects.

What’s next after Soane? Will this be part of a series of digital reconstructions of historical buildings?

There’s been a lot of discussion about what’s next; we now have the ability to re-create history in BIM, so watch this space for future projects. In the meantime we’ve only touched on the Bank of England, there’s a lot more to explore.

Image Credit: Project Soane

Desire worked at ITProPortal right at the beginning and was instrumental in turning it into the leading publication we all know and love today. He then moved on to be the Editor of TechRadarPro - a position he still holds - and has recently been reunited with ITProPortal since Future Publishing's acquisition of Net Communities.