An engaging family trail for one of London's most famous landmarks


Arts & Culture

Digital Placemaking

Image shows London Bridge in all its glory against a sunny but cloudy sky

Executive Summary

Tower Bridge was built over 120 years ago and to this day is considered an engineering marvel. Beyond being one of London’s most iconic landmarks, it is arguably one of the most famous and instantly recognisable structures in the world.

Each year over 800,000 people visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition, a significant proportion of whom are families visiting London from the UK and abroad. Striving to keep their audiences engaged and offer the best experience of the Bridge possible, Exhibition Development Manager for the Bridge and The Monument, Dirk Bennett and his team decided to create a gaming app to inspire, engage and most of all, entertain their young patrons.

“Our interpretation plan identified families with children as one of our key target audiences. As part of the activity we were looking to incorporate a treasure hunt element and although this could of taken any form we felt an app was the best way to do that.” – Dirk Bennett, Exhibition Development Manager, Tower Bridge & Monument

Inspired by Victorian engineering’s inventive use of technology and the capabilities of modern smartphones, Dirk Bennett was interested in how the features of the phone could introduce a mechanic element to the experience.

It’s how modern audiences use their phone. It’s what they’re used to and what they expect. They ping them, shake them, tilt them, turn them over… we wanted to explore how that could interact with the site.

Dirk Bennett, Exhibition Development Manager, Tower Bridge & Monument

Here we see a collage of 3 images of Tower Bridge against a pale blue background: the first is of 1 of the Towers with part of the blue bridge showing. The second is of the inside with a fire furnace. The third is of 2 statues of men sitting across a iron structure with tools in their hands as if they are working in real life.


However, it was important that the app didn’t overshadow the experience of visiting Tower Bridge. Therefore, we aimed to design activities that would help visitors make connections between the digital and physical experience; taking the latter as the inspiration, reference and starting point for the app.

For example, as you look down to the river through Tower Bridge’s famous glass floor,  you can blow into your phone to steer a sailing boat under the bridge. While in the Engine Rooms, your phone becomes a spanner that you hold up and turn, to tighten loose screws. Each time you complete an activity, you’re awarded with a sound, allowing you to make the bridge sing, with a growing collection of sound effects inspired by the bridge. These activities encourage users to experiment and play along with their families to enjoy the bridge as well as the app.

With this visitor experience in mind, we created a treasure hunt format that guides users through the space, keeping visitors moving through the exhibition. At each stage, there are games or facts to enjoy and each activity can be revisited or replayed by scrolling back through their journey on the app.

Collage of different Games in the Tower Bridge app
Games in the Tower Bridge app

How Calvium Helped

Calvium devised a project calendar that began with a co-creation workshop involving a cross-section of the Tower Bridge and Calvium teams. The workshop provided a way for teams to share and develop ideas together, learn the motives behind requirements, and understand the technical possibilities.  We believe it’s important to get a working prototype available quickly,  so that testing can start as soon as possible. Together, we agreed a set of activities to prototype – and put our designers & developers to work.

“I've always been of the opinion that it helps you avoid costs and wasted time in the long run if you invest a little bit more at the outset to test it. Calvium shared this belief.”

Dirk Bennett, Exhibition Development Manager, Tower Bridge & Monument

The prototypes were used to drive a series of user testing sessions, where we observed the behaviour of our target audience and gathered feedback on the works-in-progress. Each session provided insights into the different approaches people took to interacting with the device, and the site itself. Seeing these interactions helped us to design an app that balances between guiding and entertaining visitors, and allowing them to enjoy the on-site displays.

We took the time to really get to know the site, the stories and experiences that the Tower Bridge team were looking to create. A combination of research, site visits and group discussions with different teams within Tower Bridge gave us a more holistic idea of what goals needed to be met.

Collage of the app interface and the trail that users would follow using the app in the bridge
Tower bridge trail


The emphasis on co-creation was a huge factor in making the project such a success. The combination of the Tower Bridge team’s expert knowledge of their visitors, and Calvium’s understanding of mobile experience made for a genuinely engaging app and a brilliantly enjoyable working process.

Download the Tower Bridge Family Trail app for free:

Working with Calvium has been a real pleasure. From the start there was a level of mutual understanding that meant there was never any fuss or drama. We gave them a clear brief, and they would come back with great suggestions. It’s been a great project to work on.

Dirk Bennett, Exhibition Development Manager, Tower Bridge & Monument

Get in touch with us today to discuss how Calvium can work collaboratively with your organisation to provide compelling and engaging digital visitor experiences. 

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