A new digital interpretation of Beckford’s Tower has been commissioned to revitalise the visitor attraction. Tasked with bringing the site to life for a new audience, is top augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) studio, Zubr Curio, alongside their long-term collaborator Calvium, a leading digital agency.

Bath Preservation Trust chose the Bristol-based agencies to deliver a range of engaging, innovative and immersive digital experiences for visitors to Beckford’s Tower and along the walk towards it through the paddocks and Lansdown Cemetery. This will cover both indoor and outdoor interpretation, plus accessible interpretation. As the tower undergoes a multi-million-pound refurbishment, thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the ambition is to create playful ways in which visitors can learn.

Through building immersive experiences, the end result will offer novel ways to access the historic narrative, catering to a range of learning styles. The digital interpretation will enhance users’ engagement with and understanding of the key spaces within Beckford’s Tower, namely: the staircase; the drawing room; the library; the roof terrace; and the belvedere.

Immersive learning experiences

Keen to bring stories from the past and local voices from the present to life, whilst creating a unique visitor experience, Amy Stewart, Project Manager at Zubr tells us, “This project is a fantastic opportunity to combine the creativity and innovative AR expertise of Zubr Curio, with Calvium’s robust and visitor-friendly Place Experience Platform.

“Beckford’s Tower and the surrounding landscape have such a deep and varied history, which we can’t wait to make more accessible through digital interpretation. We’ve got lots of ideas and can’t wait to get started!”

For this project, Zubr and Calvium are excited to reunite the partnership which successfully delivered the award-winning ‘Hidden Florence 3D’ AR app. Zubr’s experience developing immersive content, coupled with Calvium’s expertise in innovative software solutions and digital placemaking, makes them the ideal team to create all three digital interpretation packages for Beckford’s Tower.

As Jo Reid, Founder & CEO at Calvium explains, “We’re thrilled to partner with long-time collaborators, Zubr, to deliver an interactive, rich and varied experience for visitors to  Beckford’s Tower.  We are excited we can make the very most of our Place Experience Platform to augment the landscape with inclusive audio and visual storytelling.”

Through sound, animation, interactive experiences, video interview pieces, and breathtaking AR reconstructions, the grounds will be modified in a myriad of innovative ways. This includes utilising audio and AR tech to enhance the walk through the paddocks and cemetery to the Tower, and to explore the stories of William Beckford and many others who are part of the Tower’s history as part of the broader NLHF redevelopment.

Fittingly, the project will be the first use of Zubr’s innovative handheld VR Binoculars. Physical access to the tower is very limited, as the interior spaces can only be accessed via the spiral staircase at the heart of the building. The VR Binoculars will provide step-free 360 degree views from the top of the Tower in a familiar, analogue-feeling device.

Stay tuned for more information when Beckford’s Tower reopens to welcome visitors once again, showcasing its digital transformation for all to enjoy.