A milestone

Will in the near future an immersive storytelling in museums, galleries and places of historical events still be possible without using screens? Two designers from Chomko & Rosier studio know how to harness the storytelling potential of new non-screen-based digital technologies in a way that does not detract visitors from what makes visiting a place unique. An example of this approach is their project named ‘Heart of a King’.

‘Heart of a King’ is a prototype visitor experience designed by the duo Chomko & Rosier for Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity in London that manages and cares for six  royal palaces in the UK. Their project places visitors in the footsteps and emotional state of Charles I on the day of his execution in 1649. Visitors received a wooden, heart-shaped totem. The device creates a haptic heartbeat that acts as a compass, increasing in strength when pointed to Charles’ last path.


Following the heartbeat, visitors trace Charles’ final journey through St James Park and Whitehall, arriving in front of Banqueting House (it is all that remains of the opulent Whitehall Palace, once the largest palace in Europe, a labyrinth of 1,500 rooms), the place of his execution where the heart ceases to beat. On the journey, contextual signage styled as modern street signage gave visitors quotes and further information on 30 January 1649, the day the first English monarch was executed.

The heartbeat acts as a link, a universal human rhythm that allows users to enter the physiological and psychological state of the king Charles I before his execution.

The prototype of ‘Heart of a King’ processes GPS and orientation sensor readings in an Arduino-based microcontroller to modulate the strength of the heartbeat, giving the visitor an immersive, non-digital experience, guided only by the sense of touch.

The heart casings are milled from various hardwoods and finished with linseed oil.

‘Heart of a King’ is a part of the development phase of a multisensory experience named ‘The Lost Palace’. The aim of this project is to immerse visitors in the historical events and to retell stories that took place within the Palace of Whitehall, before fire destroyed it over 300 years ago.

In summer 2016, visitors of central London will uncover what was once considered the most magnificent palace in Europe. Through technical and theatrical innovations, including 3D audio, which is called by the Chomko & Rosier duo ‘a new form of virtual reality’, the spaces, stories and events from the palace will come to life in a multisensory, location-based experience.

To learn more details about ‘Heart of a King’ and ‘The Lost Palace’ projects, please watch the video interview with Matthew Rosier.


Chomko & Rosier design studio creates new ways of engaging with technology. Its founders, Jonathan Chomko and Matthew Rosier, explore why people use technology, where and when it is appropriate and how we should interact with it. Jonathan and Matthew’s ideas bridge interaction design and architecture, resulting in physical, embedded works in public space. The studio’s previous work ‘Shadowing’ has been nominated for Designs of the Year 2015 by London Design Museum.

Chomko Rosier at RE WORK credits Trend Nomad
Photography by Trend Nomad

I spoke to Matthew Rosier at RE.WORK Future Technology Summit in London in Autumn 2015. If you have any questions regarding ‘Heart of a King’ or any other work by Chomko & Rosier, please feel free to contact Matthew at matthew@chomkorosier.com.


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