Hashima, also known as Gunkanjima, “Battleship Island,”  is an uninhabited island off the coast of Nagasaki which James Bond fans may recognise as the spooky deserted island of bad guy Silva in Skyfall. Access to Hashima, which has been abandoned since the 1970s, is highly restricted – tours do run to the island, but visitors are only permitted to access certain viewing points, and are not allowed anywhere near the crumbling buildings for safety reasons.

But now that researchers from Nagasaki University have created a stunning digital 3-D model of the entire island, you can explore the area from the comfort of your own armchair! The team used camera drones and laser scanners to capture 28,000 images of the site, splicing them together to render the island, and you can check out the results below!

Hashima, which is nicknamed Gunkanjima/Battleship Island because its shape closely resembles a battleship, was once home to an island community based around coal mining. As Michael Gakuran notes, Hashima is tiny – and its population of mining families once made it the most densely populated city in the world. But in 1974, the mines were closed down and Hashima’s inhabitants found themselves jobless. They were forced to move from the island, often leaving their possessions behind.

The workers’ homes are architecturally notable, too. This cuboid building dates from 1915, making it Japan’s oldest reinforced concrete apartment building.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 14.29.12YouTube/Nagasaki-shi sekai-isan suishinshitsu

Anyway, let’s take a look at the 3D tour!

▼ There’s no sound, which (if we may say so) makes for a mildly disconcerting video experience. To make up for this, we’ve provided a suggested soundtrack. Simply scroll down and hit play on the bottom video first!

There’s also a neat ‘making-of’ video, which includes shots of the drones in action.

▼ Stills of the 3-D model

sono1Gunkanjima Project

gunkanjimaGunkanjima Project

sono2Gunkanjima Project

Using the 3-D image that’s been produced, the team has even started using a 3-D printer to produce a physical model of the buildings.

▼ It’s not the most beautiful building in the world, but it is still important.

3DプリンターGunkanjima Project

The project was commissioned by the city of Nagasaki. As time passes and the abandoned buildings fall deeper into disrepair, its objective is to preserve the island digitally for future generations.

Sources: YouTube/Nagasaki-shi sekai-isan suishinshitsu, Gunkanjima Project, via Huffington Post JP
Related: Gakuranman (1, 2)
GIF: RocketNews24, from YouTube/Nagasaki-shi sekai-isan suishinshitsu