materialising Sheffield - re-presenting the past  
steel ingots


Stage 1:
Looking at the evidence

Stage 2:
Planning the model

Stage 3:
Making the model

Stage 4:

Stage 5:
Collecting textures

Stage 6:
Rendering the model

Stage 7:
Adding 3d elements

Stage 8:
Adding animation

Stage 9:

Stage 10: Produce the final model



Following the project team's preliminary discussions about the evolution of the furnace site and an assessment of the quality of information available at each stage, it was decided to fix the date for the reconstruction at the time of Geisler's visit to Sheffield in 1772. This had the advantage of showing the furnace building shortly after Huntsman built the four-hole extension, and as the works were beginning to grow from a backyard operation into a more integrated industrial complex. However, the model would need to be carefully designed to take into account the pre-extension furnace layout, rather than relying on Geisler's idealised version.

Much of the basic setting-out, such as the position and dimensions of the furnace building, its stacks and outbuildings, could be derived from the Fairbanks' surveys of the Attercliffe site. However, smaller scale details -- including the stonework of the windows, doors and cellar openings, and the roof hatches to let out heat and smoke -- would have to be adapted from surviving examples of industrial buildings. Site levels from later survey data would also need to be incorporated, to determine the elevation of the furnace floor level and cellar openings relative to the yard.

Reference to eighteenth-century industrial and agricultural vernacular construction helped to determine the most likely roof and wall structure, materials used, and architectural detailing. Internally, the fittings of the crucible shop would be based on the layout of later furnace buildings and the application of these principles to Huntsman's plan. Although much of this information was already contained in the text and drawings of the source case study, it had not hitherto been possible to represent them in an integrated visualisation.

At the pre-modelling stage, it was also decided to texture map the finished model with real materials sampled at a high resolution from existing built examples, for which Abbeydale Works again seemed the most suitable candidate. It would also be essential to decide at what level of detail to model different portions of the works, depending on the available data and their relative importance in the final animation. Elements such as the workers' housing and the cementation furnace, about which less was known, would only be seen in long shots and could therefore be simplified in the CAD model, concentrating on their external massing and roof forms.







Copyright Alan Williams and HRI online

illustration: Fairbank survey and redrawn plan for comparison

Copyright Alan Williams and HRI online

illustration: drawn plan of furnace