Matt Reed, an Architectural and Urban Design MA student, is collaborating with the Bognor Regis Business Improvement District (BID) on an augmented reality project. They are creating an immersive experience focused on Bognor Regis’ heritage, centred around a historical bathing machine. The machine has been meticulously researched and laser-scanned by Matt and his team. The project aims to bring the machine to life through augmented reality, with a particular focus on the story of Mary Wheatland, a significant figure in Bognor Regis’ history.
Mary was a bathing machine operator and lifeguard who saved many lives during her career. The augmented reality experience is set to launch on March 31st, 2024, coinciding with the centenary of Mary Wheatland’s passing.
The Bognor Regis Business Improvement District (BID) is introducing an innovative addition to the town’s landscape called the ‘Bognor portal.’ This 2.35-metre-tall red aluminum archway will transform into an augmented reality time portal. Positioned on the promenade, the ‘Bognor portal’ will become a symbol of art, engaging residents and visitors. The installation will be located on a viewing deck leased by Bognor Regis Town Council, offering picturesque seaside views. The ‘Bognor portal’ is part of an ambitious 18-month augmented reality art project celebrating Bognor Regis’ vibrant heritage, valued at nearly £100,000. The project has received funding from the UK Share Prosperity Fund, with support from Niantic Labs, creators of Pokemon Go.
The exhibition will encompass the entire town over 18 months, starting at the ‘Bognor portal.’ This collaborative project aims to enhance tourism and business prospects in Bognor Regis, running from March 2024 to October 2025. The exhibition will include a Heritage Trail, connecting key locations such as the main beach with the proposed AR project, a fully restored, life-sized original bathing machine displayed at the museum, and the town council’s miniature machine.
To experience the augmented reality, visitors will scan a QR code using their smartphones or tablets before entering the arch. Inside, they will encounter a digital representation of three wooden bathing machines and Mary Wheatland, who will share her story, immersing visitors in Bognor Regis’ history.