Numerical Analysis of Historic Structural Elements Using 3D Point Cloud Data

Umut Almac*, Isıl Polat Pekmezci, Metin Ahunbay
Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey

© Almac et al. ; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey; E-mail:


The 3D laser scanner has become a common instrument in numerous field applications such as structural health monitoring, assessment and documentation of structural damages, volume and dimension control of excavations, geometrical recording of built environment, and construction progress monitoring in different fields. It enables capture of millions of points from the surface of objects with high accuracy and in a very short time. These points can be employed to extrapolate the shape of the elements. In this way, the collected data can be developed to construct three-dimensional digital models that can be used in structural FEM analysis.

This paper presents structural evaluation of a historic building through FE models with the help of a 3D point cloud. The main focus of the study is on the stone columns of a historic cistern. These deteriorated load bearing elements have severe non-uniform erosion, which leads to formation of significant stress concentrations. At this point, the 3D geometric data becomes crucial in revealing the stress distribution of severely eroded columns due to material deterioration.

According to the results of static analysis using real geometry, maximum stress in compression increased remarkably on the columns in comparison with the geometrically idealized models. These values seem to approach the compressive strength of the material, which was obtained from the point load test results. Moreover, the stress distribution of the analysis draws attention to the section between columns and their capitals. According to the detailed 3D documentation, there is a reduced contact surface between columns and capitals to transfer loads.

Keywords: 3D model, Finite element model, Laser scanner, Masonry, Point cloud, Structural analysis, TLS.