Converting a Historical Encyclopedia of Architecture into a Semantic Knowledge Base
The historic Encyclopedia of Architecture, written in German between 1880-1943, was one of the largest projects aiming at conserving all architectural knowledge available at that time. Today, its vast amount of content is mostly lost: few complete sets are available, and its complex structure does not lend itself easily to contemporary application. We show how modern semantic technologies can be applied to make these heritage documents accessible again. In particular, we demonstrate how to go beyond classical digitization projects by transforming the historical documents into a semantic knowledge base. Using techniques from natural language processing and the Semantic Web, we show how to automatically populate an ontology that can be used for various application scenarios: Building historians can use it to navigate and query the encyclopedia, while architects can directly integrate it into contemporary construction tools. Additionally, all content is made accessible in a user-friendly Wiki interface that combines original text with NLP-derived metadata and adds annotation capabilities for collaborative use.