Tracing the Tunnels

Beneath Newhaven Fort and stretching into the surrounding area is a network of tunnels known as HMS Forward. During the Second World this was a Royal Navy Intelligence Centre. Many of these tunnels are now derelict and inaccessible, but still hold an interest (as underground and hidden things tend to do).

The proposed app will trace overground, this underground network using a series of ‘spots’ to tell the user what lies beneath their feet and so see their surroundings in a different way, as, according to Farman: “The meaning in of a story is affected by the place in which the story is told and, similarly, the meaning of a place tends to be told through stories” (2014, p6).

The user would be guided by the sounds of what once happened beneath their feet – typing, the tuning of radio frequencies, the voices of children exploring, ghosts stories and even a film crew – with the sounds getting louder, guiding the user to the spot.

Once the user is standing on the ground above a part of the tunnel with a story, they will hear about what happened beneath them. As they walk away the sounds of the tunnel will intermingle until they decide which they want to follow.

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The stories will not be ordered chronologically, but present a layered history of what has occurred beneath the ground throughout the history of the tunnels’ existence. This layering of multiple stories will provide a range of perspectives and does not require a beginning, middle or end (Farman, J. 2014, p9).

The sound experience can be combined with a mapping function to show the user’s route around the site, by following the path with loudest sounds they can trace a route on their mobile device of the tunnels. An additional element is the use of code or encryption that must be deciphered, thus emphasising their original purpose for intelligence gathering.


Farman, J. (2014). Site Specificity, Pervasive Computing, and the Reading Interface, pp6-9. Routledge.

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