The world's first digital art park...


Arts & Culture

Digital Placemaking

Purple flowers in the park

Executive Summary

NetPark is the World’s first Digital Art Park and is now a permanent visitor attraction for Southend-on-Sea in Essex, UK.

A collaboration between Calvium, artistic laboratory Metal, and the University of Brighton, the project aimed to create experiential layers of culture in an already well-loved public space, Chalkwell Park. As part of the project, the park was fitted with WiFi to provide internet access during business hours, thus making visitors more aware of Metal’s presence and inviting people to see the park differently.

The park itself has a rich history of cultural engagement, being the home of Metal’s Southend-on-Sea centre since 2007, who host the annual Village Green music festival there. Metal were keen to find ways to engage visitors to the park, not only for access to free WiFi, but to add invisible layers of experience to the space, available for anyone interested in a different perspective of the park.

Metal commissioned five digital artworks and five located stories, which responded to the physical space, whilst remaining unseen to other visitors, as they were delivered through a series of apps.

netpark app open on a phone laid over a netpark leaflet that provides information about the app


As this was the first project of its kind, we anticipated hurdles at many points along the path, particularly as the project involved several organisations and local council bodies. However, with an open and collaborative approach, learning was shared across teams throughout the process that became a growing toolkit of knowledge. This NetPark Toolkit would serve as a template that could be used by future designers of digital art parks, to develop the ideas in other locations.

How Calvium Helped

As the technical partner, Calvium consulted on the meeting between physical and digital spaces, the delivery of the proposed experiences and in supporting the Metal team through the process of commissioning digital artworks.

During the production stages of the project, we delivered a series of experience design workshops to the artists involved and provided tools to establish which areas of the park would be most suitable for GPS-triggered experiences. From here, we offered support to realise the artists visions using our DIY app-making platform.

Calvium are a talented and responsive group of people who remain accessible and excited about creative technology.

Simon Poulter, METAL

Results & ROI

The project was funded by Nesta’s Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, which helps participants to document their insights throughout the process, culminating in a Project Report contributed to by all organisations. The NetPark toolkit would serve as a template that future designers of other NetParks could use in more locations.

We do want this to continue. We hope other arts organisations will establish digital arts parks, and we will be here to help with any advice.

Simon Poulter, METAL

The project received positive media attention, with articles appearing the The Guardian and  Echo News.

Calvium are experienced in working on multi-stakeholder, collaborative projects. If you have a project in mind and would like to discuss it further, please do get in touch for an informal chat. 

Calvium circle logo