Matt Reed in the Bognor Regis Time Portal

Brighton graduate’s time portal design boosts tourism at Bognor Regis seafront

University of Brighton graduate Matt Reed is the artist behind a new technology bringing the rich history of the coastal town of Bognor Regis to life.

Beginning as an idea while studying an Architectural and Urban Design MA at the University of Brighton, Bognor Regis Time Portal allows visitors to use their own phones or tablets to get a glimpse of Victorian-era Bognor, with 3D recreations of the wooden bathing machines that once lined the town’s beach.

The Bognor Regis Time Portal

The time portal uses augmented reality to celebrate the life of Mary Wheatland, a 19th-century local figure who was a bathing machine operator, swimming instructor, and lifeguard. Mary is famed for saving more than 30 people from drowning and was decorated for her heroic efforts.

Before working on this project, Matt was an accomplished artist with over 25 years’ experience. His credits include film productions such as Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Red Dwarf, and the recent Netflix hit, Saltburn.

Matt said: “The idea for the Bognor Regis Time Portal originally came from a design module on my master’s degree course at the University of Brighton. I always thought that ideas I came up with while on the course would have real-world applications. And so, when I started the time portal project, I was keen to explore ways of making it real. After several rejections, I eventually secured enough money to make it work. It was a difficult and long process, but it feels great to have finally achieved it.”

He added: “The public reaction to the work has been fantastic, and in just the first two weeks we had over 5,000 visitors. My hope was that the work would attract new visitors to Bognor Regis – from our initial reaction it seems that this is the case, which makes me very happy.”

Sarah Stevens, Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for Architectural and Urban Design MA at the University of Brighton, said: “Matt completed some really exciting work whilst on the course. Although Augmented Reality was a new mode of practice for him, Matt used the course modules to trial out approaches and hone his skills. His second design module proposed the AR reinstatement of historic landmarks in Brighton, such as the chain pier and the bathing machines. This then developed into a proposal which evolved into what we have now along the coast at Bognor.”

She added: “The course is focused on supporting our students to uncover their critical position and mode of design practice. It is great to see Matt realise these ambitions.”

Visitors can see the Bognor Regis Time Portal at The Promenade opposite the Place St Maur, in the middle of the main beach.

Find out more about Matt’s time as a student at Brighton.

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