Place-based narratives: Hove Plinth initiative

Project Details


The research project 'Place-based narratives' investigated how communities could more meaningfully connect with local heritage through the sharing of creative digital experiences that interweave multiple individual narrative interpretations of cultural objects and locations.

It was based around the first 2018 Hove Plinth initiative and its inaugural sculpture, Jonathan Wright’s ‘Constellation’, which features a mechanical ‘solar system’ using iconic objects selected by the local community to represent Hove, and was relocated to the Hove Museum grounds in 2023.

The research was in partnership with the University of Sussex and Hove Civic Society, whose plinth project involves a series of commissions for new sculptures to fill the plinth on Hove seafront.

Through research co-led by Karina Rodriguez Echavarria (University of Brighton) and Dr Kate Howland (University of Sussex), people were able to interact with the sculpture adding their own stories to a cultural database of the landmarks and objects, and making use of location-based technologies.

In recent years, the development of technologies to support communities engaging with their cultural environment had focused on easing the task of digitising, identifying, preserving and connecting people with cultural assets (e.g. museum objects, heritage building). However, people were increasingly recording and sharing their personal interactions with culture and their local heritage. The Place-based narratives project would therefore seek to understand how digital technologies could bring creative interactions among the community, enhancing the public’s understanding and appreciation of objects and sites that go beyond traditional notions of heritage education.

The project planned to investigate requirements for novel digital platforms, examining how location-aware mobile technologies and augmented reality platforms might allow community members to contribute engaging stories relating to objects and places in the city. This would capitalise particularly on narrative-based approaches, through which stories can illuminate different viewpoints.

Key findings

Project activities

• On the 13th of July 2018, the team held a workshop on 3D heritage experiences. The project partners and other collaborators came together to co-design some ideas for prototyping technology during the project. The workshop included activities for developing heritage narratives, some technology demos and brainstorming session based on case studies.

• Researchers developed an app that let people create their own ‘digital constellation’ based on their favourite city icons. During Brighton Digital Festival 2018 they requested public sharing of particular places, or objects which meant something to residents and visitors.

• The team participated at the Digital Festival on the 22nd of September 2018. The event was called “Digital Journeys through Archaeology” and it involved showcasing various Virtual Reality technologies to allow people to experience local cultural heritage. The museum curator came to the event and it was an opportunity for people to get up close with some pieces from the museum’s archaeology collection, and learn more about the new archaeology gallery that would open later that year with support from the University of Brighton team.

• In March 2019, in collaboration with Our Future City and Hove Civic Society, the team engaged with school children at Saint Andrews (Hove) in a creative process to collectively co-produce an artwork, inspired by the Constellation sculpture on the Hove Plinth. The process was facilitated by the artist, Jo Coles, and was delivered through a series of workshops in March 2019 which explored:
> The locality and children’s sense of belonging and identity
> Individual and collective stories and significant objects/places
> The role of digital technologies to support and capture the process
During this 'Build your own constellation' workshop, children explored their physical environment and their journeys home in the Hove surroundings as well as those things which are relevant to them. Children were then given the opportunity to develop both and individual and collective artwork.

On the 20 July 2019, the event 'Exploring the Familiar' at Hove Museum exhibited the work with Saint Andrew's pupils and the digital research undertaken as part of the work with Hove Civic Society.

In September 2019, the team released an augmented reality (AR) application based on the session with Saint Andrews School. This enabled Hove communities to view local cultural heritage through the eyes of schoolchildren.

The application was developed by a collaboration between Mnemoscene and Brighton researchers and used a physical map which was augmented with digital content to presents the stories of children at the Hove school.


Ultimately, the project enabled local people to participate in the preservation and interpretation of cultural heritage and facilitate the access to the multiple meanings of artefacts.

"Hove Plinth is a new cultural landmark for our city and will feature digital and interactive technologies to engage communities with the artworks displayed and there connections to Hove.
"Hove Civic Society welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with this research project in order to explore how new technologies can enable communities to access information about the artworks as well as to contribute stories relating to their own experiences.
"We firmly believe that the collaboration with Karina Rodriguez Echavarria and Kate Howland, who have extensive experience on research at the intersection between heritage and digital technologies, will be a unique opportunity to explore new ideas to engage communities with art and heritage and create synergies for all parties."

Karin Janzon, Project Director Hove Plinth and Trustee of Hove Civic Society

Rodriguez Echavarria, K., Dibble, L., Bracco, A., Silverton, E., & Dixon, S. (2019). 'Augmented Reality (AR) Maps for Experiencing Creative Narratives of Cultural Heritage'. In S. Rizvic, & K. Rodriguez Echavarria (Eds.), Eurographics Workshop on Graphics and Cultural Heritage. The Eurographics Association.
Effective start/end date1/05/1831/10/19


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