The Beacon at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve | Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

The Beacon at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

Thursday, 24th June 2021

The Beacon at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
The Beacon © Barry Yates

Those of you who have been visiting Rye Harbour Nature Reserve will have noticed a large yellow structure being erected. It's called The Beacon and we speak to the creators to find out more about it.

What is The Beacon?

It is a Climate Art commission – a temporary large-scale installation designed and constructed by a local architectural designer, Joseph Williams. It is the outcome of a three-month residency in Rye, which brought together three multidisciplinary practitioners, working across biology, public art, film, and architecture.

Beacon 6190011 pillbox web

This project has been undertaken in cooperation with Sussex Wildlife Trust, generously supported by Bridgepoint Rye and the Kowitz Family Foundation.

We hope it will encourage interest in the conservation of wildlife among school groups and visitors, highlighting the beauty within the area. Serving as a symbol of hope and reunion, The Beacon is envisaged as a temporary outdoor space for community and education events, finally permissible after months of lockdown.

What materials is it made from and what’s the process been?

Ethically sourced bamboo; and the fabric is an innovative European-made nylon stretch fabric.

Using stretch fabric allowed us to cover more surface with less material, which minimises the environmental impact of the overall structure.

There are no natural alternatives with the same stretchability.

Beacon 6190008 centre web

Nylon can be reused over and over again, reducing the amount of energy, water, and fossil fuels required with each use. For a structure of eight metres tall, it has a remarkably low carbon footprint. It is not ‘an iceberg structure’ – no concrete is used in its foundation and it has a minimal impact on the site.

In terms of the process, the construction remains one of the most polluting industries in the world with close to 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions being released from buildings. Joseph William’s relatively small-scale site-responsive experiment contributes to a better understanding of how architects and designers could find solutions to environmental change and understand our impact on the planet.

To make this project a reality, we partnered up with the world-leading engineering firm AKT II  who saw great potential in Joseph’s ambitious design. The rigging techniques employed here had never previously been used in the UK.

What's the purpose?

We hope to spark conversation about architecture and climate change; to inspire the younger generation, to celebrate the natural beauty of Rye Harbour.

It was inspired by a common local plant found across the shingle of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve the Yellow Horned-poppy

Yellow horned poppy june 21

How long is it in place?

It is here until 25 July. It will be exhibited elsewhere after that (using all the same materials) making it a very sustainable installation

Beacon 6190012 side web

From 26th June until 25th July 2021

Joseph Williams’ website, or follow @climateartuk


This post is also available on Sussex Wildlife Trust website

Sign up for your newsletter


Keep up to date with the latest developments.

We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage, to improve your browsing experience and show personalised content. You are free to manage this via your browser settings at any time. To learn more about how we use the cookies, please see our cookies policy.