IKON Bohus – Prototyping the Past

IKON Bohus – Prototyping the Past


During 2011 we will develop and try out new – pragmatic and extravagant – ways of visualising the history of the 700-year-old Bohus fortress.


IKON is an EU-financed project with the aim to strengthen the tourism industry by developing new technologies, tools and solutions that enhance visitors’ experiences of historical sites, and cultural attractions. The project has 47 participating organisations from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. As a part of IKON National Property Board Sweden (Statens Fastighetsverk) and the City of Kungälv have commissioned Unsworn Industries, in collaboration with Testbedstudio and Terje Östling, to develop and prototype a wide range of visualisation concepts at Bohus fortress in western Sweden.

The Fortress

Bohus fortress was built in 1308 by the Norwegian King Håkon V. With its strategic location, next to the river Nordre Älv, and close to the borders of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, it has played an important role in Nordic power struggles. The fortress was besieged fourteen times, but has never been taken. In 1789 it was closed down and left to decay. Today the fortress is the main attraction of the city of Kungälv and open to visitors during the summer.

Prototyping Historical visualisations

A range of events, activities, and guided tours are today offered to people visiting the fortress. IKON aim, by means of low and high tech innovations, to enhance the public activities to attract more visitors, both tourists and locals. How can we bring to life the historical treasures hidden behind the walls of the fortress without disturbing a sensitive site?

Our first experiment is a, yet unnamed, Mobile panorama application for smart phones and tablets that visualises, site-specific historical views, and layers. Inspired by the Parascope the app displays multiple panoramic visualisations of how the fortress might have looked like in the past. The users can immediately compare these views with the current millieu.

Another experiment, the Fickla Walk, explores ultra-violet (UV) torches and ink. When walking the walk using the torch to light up the UV markings, hidden messages are discovered, secrets revealed, and stories told. We have developed prototypes of both production methods and storytelling techniques. We are also researching how the UV-materials might affect these fragile historical environments.

On-site prototyping sessions in March and April 2011:

Update: Check out more videos from the user-testing!