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An Atlas of Dust

May 23, 2022 – Jun 3, 2022
Morningside Campus
Research Question

Is it possible to map, document, isolate and visualize in 3D the layers of dust encrusted on building facades?

If so, can we recognize discernible patterns of how the dust settled on the facades? What can these dust patterns teach us about the history of the weather and environmental pollution?

Can we learn to read buildings as long term environmental sensors encrypted with valuable material data about pollution?

Methodology and Process
  • Through hands-on training led by Professor Jorge Otero-Pailos in collaboration with the CyArk Foundation, students will learn to 3D scan buildings using laser scanning and photogrammetry. We will 3D scan buildings on the Columbia campus.
  • Students will learn how to process the data into 3D models viewable online.
  • Students will experiment with various digital imaging techniques to isolate the layers of dust on the buildings so they can be visualized independently.
  • Students will learn to analyze and interpret the dust patterns by correlating the 3D maps of dust with historical weather and pollution information, including prevailing winds, yearly rainfall, and historical air quality data.
  • Students will learn digital humanities tools for making their analysis and interpretations available to the public through tagging videos and documents to the 3D dust patterns and 3D building scans.
Output and Findings
The workshop will result in interactive 3D scans of buildings that allow the public to visualize the patterns of pollution and understand their meaning and value for understanding climate change.

Scan of Avery produced during the 2021 Atlas of Dust Summer Workshop.

Other 2022 workshops

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Farm to Building: Design/Build with Earth and Fibers
Lamont-Doherty Campus
Jul 11, 2022 – Jul 24, 2022
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The Battle for Streets: Reclaiming Our Right of Way
Across New York City
Jun 13, 2022 – Jul 1, 2022
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Envisioning Community-led Climate Adaptation and Housing Mobility in San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico
May 28, 2022 – Jun 6, 2022