The whole building is a stage at the National Theatre...


Arts & Culture

Digital Placemaking

Shot from a low angle, this image shows the eye catching outside of the National Theatre - red panels across the building

Executive Summary

In 2016, National Theatre were looking for a digital experience to engage visitors with the theatricality of the building they inhabit, through playful exploration. Calvium consulted on and implemented an iBeacon installation, which invites visitors to create their own drama, using the architecture of the space as inspiration.

The app points out architectural details as family groups explore different spaces, directing them to pose for dramatic scenes together, building a storyboard of photos as they play together around the building.

When Denys Lasdun designed the National Theatre, he had the idea to make a fourth theatre – one where the actors are the people who pass through here every day. In the fourth theatre dramas happen everywhere. The entrances and exits are behind you, or above you. And the action spills out into the open air

Hidden Stages app, National Theatre


As the National Theatre is a large indoor space, we opted for iBeacons to help navigate visitors through the various “stages” of their visit. iBeacons provide a lot of opportunities for indoor positioning, but they can also behave in unexpected ways; bluetooth passes through walls & floors, reflects around corners and amplifies in steel lift shafts – requiring careful investigation to work out solutions. Through on-site testing, Calvium found locations and techniques that made the most of the available space, allowing the story to continue in the desired positions.

Screenshots of the Hidden Stages app interface, laid onto 4 white iPhones

How Calvium Helped

When iBeacon technology was first announced back in early 2014, Calvium took it upon themselves to carry out internal investigation into the technology. Our experience in working with beacons was therefore essential in the successful delivery of Hidden Stages.

We were brought in as a consultant during the ideation phase, working with the National Theatre’s writers to establish how the possibilities could be realised. From here, we began to refine concepts and develop prototypes that could be tested with families on site.


The final product that came out of this was an innovative indoor experience that made use of exciting iBeacon technology. The Hidden Stages app became an excellent addition to the National Theatre’s range of engaging family activities.

Want to engage audiences with digital experiences? Get in touch with Calvium to discuss how innovative solutions could work for your organisation: 0117 226 2000 /

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