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3D Laser Scanning in Architecture

Tuesday, 13th September 2016 | by: Cameron Weights

Peter Barry prides itself on being a forward thinking professional practice; not only do we offer our clients a first class service we produce drawings that are in the upper echelon of accuracy and quality. One way in which we achieve this is by utilising 3D laser scanning in our measured surveys.

What Is 3D Laser Scanning?

Laser scanning is a method of capturing a physical object or actual world environment in recorded three dimensional data. By using 3D laser scanning technology we are able to capture data of any object both internally and externally in incredible detail.

How Does It Work?

As the name suggest the machine or Scanstation uses a laser to measure individual points. Whilst rotating vertically 360ᴼ and rotating horizontally 180ᴼ the Scanstation can capture up to 1 million points per second in a complete orbit around itself up to 270m in range to create a ‘scan’.

By combining multiple ‘scans’ we are able to create what is called a ‘point cloud’ a name which suits itself to those who are unfamiliar with looking at laser scan data. This ‘point could’ can be cleaned up to remove unnecessary data such as your neighbour’s cat that happened to sat on your wall or it can be unified to ‘glue’ all the points in place. Once the data is unified it can be worked upon to produce the desired drawings such as floor plans, elevation etc.


Figure 1: Typical View of a ‘Point Cloud’

Why Do We Use It?

Simply put it is the most effective way to capture the data we require. As an RICS regulated firm we are required to adhere to certain standard pertaining to the accuracy of our measured surveys. This in turn requires us to ensure we meet these standard through the techniques we use.

3D laser scanning offers the most effective solution to the needs. With an accuracy in measurement of 3mm at 50m distance to the object we are able to gather data that we are confident that is precise.

Not only is the data accurate it is also positioned in relation to other data giving us correlation between measurements and allows us to pick up on any positional errors between the data. At Peter Barry we aim to have all of our measured survey data within a 10mm error (RICS sets measured survey detail accuracy error at 50mm).

What Benefit Will You See?

Speaking from an architectural point of view the benefits of 3D laser scanning are endless and in my opinion cannot be overestimated. As mentioned it is peerless in accuracy, meaning that you can be confident that the drawings you receive are of a top quality.

It is usually assumed that complex pieces of kit such as a 3D laser scanner require additional sacrifices relating to time and costs. In reality, time is saved as we are able to move quickly and logically through a property to gather data, this time saving in turn negates the additional cost of the equipment.

Due to the scanner producing plans with peerless accuracy it will allow any design drawings to be drawn from the existing survey whilst working together cohesively to minimise the risk of detail not matching up. Furthermore you can be confident that material sizing and costings can be taken from the supplied plans which will in theory save costs resultant from material wastage.

To summarise:

  • Quality
  • Time
  • Costs


Figure 2: Evolution from Physical elevation – Scanned elevation – Drawn Elevation

For more information on 3D Laser Scanning and our Measured Surveys, or if you are looking to proceed with potential development within your property and wish to discuss our architectural services please do not hesitate to contact a member of the architecture team by email or call 020 7183 2578 (option 4).