A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has painstakingly scanned the entire Bourges Cathedral in France. The reason? The construction of a 3D printed replica could help to reveal the structural secrets of ancient buildings.

 The team is led by John Ochsendorf, an engineer who specialises the structural safety of historic monuments and the design of more sustainable infrastructure. An expert on the mechanics and behaviour of masonry structures, Ochsendorf has been collaborating with art historians, architects and engineers to investigate how the construction of…