Training with the African World Heritage Fund

Scanning the Old City of Cape Verde

by Scott Lee
March 19, 2015
Earlier this month over the period of a week, CyArk undertook a unique project that offered the opportunity to conduct a training workshop in conjunction with the African World Heritage Fund at its Risk Preparedness Field Project and the chance to digitally document an amazing UNESCO World Heritage SIte. The project took place in Cidade Velha (‘Old City’ in Portuguese) located on Santiago, the largest of the 10 islands belonging to the Cape Verde archipelago.

The Workshop:

The workshop included 13 participants that represented heritage sites from Guinea Bissau, Brazil, Portugal, Mozambique and Cape Verde. The goal of the workshop was to improve the risk management and conservation of their properties; to increase the ability of heritage practitioners and local communities to better plan for risks and take necessary actions for conservation after a disaster; to increase knowledge and skills in conservation, and; to enhance networking among heritage practitioners and local communities in order to deal with on-site challenges at World Heritage Properties.

CyArk was pleased to participate in the last week of the 3 week workshop to demonstrate how digital documentation is executed and how the resultant data can be used for conservation management, risk assessment and cultural tourism. The training gave site managers and authorities the ability to work hands on with the FARO Focus X330, Autodesk ReCap Pro and Memento software. By understanding the process and variety of derivatives we hope the participants left with a greater understanding of the digital preservation process and have the confidence and abilities to apply digital documentation to their own heritage sites.

About the Site:

The islands lie 500km west of Senegal in West Africa, a position that has historically offered strategic significance within the Atlantic. Cidade Velha, originally called 'Ribeira Grande’, has its earliest colonial roots around AD1460 when it was claimed by the Portuguese Crown and subsequently served as a key port of call for the transatlantic slave trade. Over the years it attracted attention from various other European powers, being sacked by English privateer Sir Francis Drake in 1585 and later in 1712 by French corsair Jacques Cassard. It was with the decline of the town in the 18th century and the shift of political and administrative function that saw nearby Praia (the modern capital) become the preferred port of call.

Cidade Velha is the subject of an ongoing programme of excavation, conservation and restoration with work undertaken from the latter half of the 20th century into the early 2000’s. The town was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

Documenting the Site:

The objective of the documentation was to create a versatile dataset that could be used to support conservation, virtual access and serve as a rich, detailed as-is record of the built heritage.

The survey focussed on capturing (4) key sites within the UNESCO designated area: Pillory square (‘Pilourinho’), the cathedral ruins, the Nossa Senhora do Rosário church and the fort (‘Forte Real de São Filipe’) overlooking Cidade Velha valley and coast.

Each presented a unique challenge to the scanning process, be it vehicle traffic and other obstructions in the centre of town, rugged terrain and difficult access whilst navigating around Rosário church or the expansive size and promontory location of the fort. An unexpected surprise whilst scanning the lesser trodden path behind the church led us to making friends with some of the local chickens and goats that had taken up residence in the area.

Along the way we were able to create many great memories and new friends. We feel privileged to work with extraordinary heritage organizations, educational institutions and people around the world. Please keeps your eyes out in the next couple months to check out the project on
The team after finishing a 3 Week Workshop
Throughout the fieldwork, we were assisted by Jose Lima (with the ever present smile) of the Instituto Patrimonio Culturais, whose own duties includes responsibility for the ongoing conservation of material from Cidade Velha.
Nossa Senhora do Rosário church in Cidade Velha; built in 1493 it is the oldest colonial church in the world. Today, it sees continued use by the communit