Step Inside a Buddhist Temple with Virtual Reality

CyArk and Iron Mountain Provide Virtual Reality Access to 18th Century Buddhist Temple in Taiwan

The Lukang Longshan Temple is the largest temple in Lukang, Taiwan and also its oldest Buddhist site. In April, CyArk and Iron Mountain partnered to digitally scan the temple using the latest in reality capture technology. For the first time, CyArk integrated virtual reality (VR) technology capabilities so that the Longshan Temple can be "toured" as if you are really there. Using the free Sketchfab platform, visitors will have the opportunity to come face-to-face with the intricate ceiling of the Buddhist temple.

CyArk is a non-profit leading the field work of capturing the precious data. The work was supported onsite by the China University of Technology (CUTe). Iron Mountain, the global leader in storage and information management, is the sole corporate sponsor of the project through its Living Legacy Initiative, providing funding and in-kind data storage and protection services.

"Our support of CyArk and projects like the Lukang Longshan Temple are the embodiment of our philanthropic focus to preserve our shared cultural heritage," said Ty Ondatje, senior vice president of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer for Iron Mountain. "Our customers trust us with their most precious assets. We take that responsibility very seriously. Our Living Legacy Initiative allows us to extend that trust to our communities where we live and work all over the world, ensuring that our shared heritage remains preserved and protected for generations to come."

Since 2012, Iron Mountain has supported CyArk's mission to preserve world heritage sites in five years. To date, CyArk has digitally preserved more than 200 sites on all seven continents. Together, CyArk and Iron Mountain are dedicated to preserving world heritage sites that are in danger due to acts terrorism, intentional destruction, rising sea levels, acid rain, excessive tourism and urban sprawl.

The Longshan Temple is especially vulnerable, as it sits atop a tectonically active region called the "Ring of Fire," home of an estimated 90 percent of all the world's earthquakes.

First designated a National Monument by the Ministry of Culture in 1983, the temple contains a wealth of rarely seen wooden sculpture including carved pillars, and an incredible caisson (spider web) ceiling supported on dougong (interlacing wooden brackets). Measuring over 5,000 square meters, the Longshan Temple dates to the 18th century Ming Dynasty and is encased with architectural beauty and spiritual significance. One of the most revered Buddhist monasteries in Taiwan, it is dedicated to the bodhisattva, Guanyin, a female symbol of mercy venerated by Mahayana Buddhists.

Using 3-D scanning technology, the team captured both internal and external imaging scans of the Longshan Temple, and used drones to aerially capture data as well. That data was then rendered by CyArk's technology team into 3-D imagery that allows the Longshan Temple to be viewed online by anyone in the world.

"Now, no matter what the future holds, we will have a record of this site and an ability to restore the temple," said CyArk Field Manager, Ross Davison. "A researcher in the twenty-second century will now be able to virtually visit Lukang and conduct their research in the virtual environment—it will literally be like stepping back in time."

To learn more, Visit Lukang Longshan Temple on CyArk.org and view the Temple Roof and the Dragon Pillar in VR on Sketchfab.