The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XL-5/W2
22 Jul 2013
 | 22 Jul 2013


C. Stal, R. Goossens, L. Carlier, J. Debie, K. Haoudy, T. Nuttens, and A. De Wulf

Keywords: UNESCO World Heritage, geomatics, topography, education, Bois-du-Luc, mining site, industrial heritage

Abstract. The Walloon Region in Belgium played a leading role in the world economy and in the industrial sciences and engineering since the 19th century. Several relicts, such as important industrial buildings or sites, are spread over a large area and are still dominating the current landscape. Some of these remnants are preserved as monuments, representing the industrial, cultural and ecological transition of the region during the last two centuries. Since 2012, UNESCO recognized the importance of four of the best preserved 19th and 20th century coal mining sites and classified them as World Heritage ("Major Mining Sites of Wallonia", Le Grand-Hornu, Bois-du- Luc, Le Bois du Cazier and Blegny Mine). The four recognised mining sites together form a strip of about 170 km long, containing important examples of the so-called 'neo classical architecture’ from the early periods of the industrial era in continental Europe. Motivated by this recognition and by the huge touristic and educational potential of the sites, a partnership between the Walloon government and Ghent University was organized. In this first stage, the collaboration focuses on the site of Bois-du-Luc in the municipality of La Louvière, containing a large series of dwellings, several equipments built between 1853 and 1923 by the Société des Charbonnages du Bois-du-Luc, workshops and heaps. Consisting of numerous buildings dating back to the period between 1838 and 1923, this site is one of Europe’s oldest collieries.

The collaboration between the Walloon government and Ghent University – Department of Geography fits in the hands-on training which students in land surveying and geomatics receive during their Bachelor studies. For the students it is very interesting that their practical exercises are not limited to the university campus, but that they are involved in a real measurement campaign. The project consists of a series of intensive land surveying campaigns, resulting in highly detailed and accurate maps of the site, including the inside domain of the buildings. Already available aerial photographs are processed to obtain a 3D model of the site and the wider region. In March 2013, the first campaign took place. During this first campaign, a topographical network was set out and a series of detail points were measured for the detailed topographic mapping. The topographical network was well-planned and covers almost the whole site, forming a set of permanently materialized reference points for later measurements. Besides, a large number of ground control points (GCPs) were taken for the 3D reconstruction of the area, based on high resolution airborne imagery. This enables the students to familiarize themselves with photogrammetric principles in a practical exercise. Both the topographic maps and the 3D model fit within the large scale geographic reference map of the Walloon Region.

In this contribution, the results of this intensive trans-regional collaboration on the preservation of the sites are presented. This paper will discuss the first deliverables from the project and the advantages for the responsible government, the cultural heritage organisations (Ecomusée du Bois-du-Luc) and the students. The main focus here is on the educational context of the project. Furthermore, future projects on the same site will be discussed.