Case Study Martello Tower

Digital Surveys where commissioned by the Suffolk Coast & Heaths as part of their touching the Tide project to create a virtual model of a Martello Tower. These small defensive forts are common across the South East coast however access to the public is limited. The touching the tide projects is aimed at engaging with the local community to show them what these towers where like and used for. The brief for the project was to build from laser scan data, an authentic interpretation of what a tower would be like in the original Napoleonic era and also WWII, when many where reinstated as lookout towers.

To do this we chose to use the Unreal Games engine. This solution provided the best visual fidelity and rendering available and also allowed us to create one version that could be ported to different devices. The results are a fully immersive virtual tour that can be experienced either as a video, desktop application, full oculus rift version or 360 images for Gear VR.

The Brief

  • To build a virtual recreation of a Martello Tower
  • To recreate it in Napolenoic and WWII era
  • To make it accessible as an interactive desktop & VR experience

Our Approach

Step 1

The Martello Towers where laser scanned so that a dimensionally accurate model could be created.

Step 2

The scan point cloud was traced around to create the base asbuilt 3D Model in Rhino.

Step 3

The model was then optimised, UV’d and textured in 3DSM. All the assets where added and set dressed.

Step 4

The 3DSM models where brought into the Unreal 4 games engine, interactions and collisions added and an interface designed.

Download the virtual experience

The Martello Tower virtual experience is now available to download for free.

The app will run on PC desktop or can be switched into VR mode and is compatible with the Oculus Rift DK2

Free Download


"The new Virtual Reality tours make the tower accessible to anyone, transporting them back in time to see exactly what life may have been like. The reconstruction of those periods are incredible in their accuracy and function. It’s been fantastic to be able to work in partnership with Digital VR to bring the towers back to life in this way."

Bill Jenman, Project Manager - Touching the Tide

Project Funders

  • Touching the Tide
  • Digital VR
  • The National Lottery