The Beacon

In 2021 we completed a colourful revamp of The Beacon shopping centre in Eastbourne. Helping to create a radically different feel, The Beacon now features colourful, place-specific design elements and surface coverings that create an unexpected public realm experience.

The internal interventions include an interconnected set of installations - fulfilling Legal & General’s brief to transform the main circulation spaces within the centre as part of a series of long-term future-proofing strategies. The project is a model for how to reanimate the public realm and get the best use out of underutilised spaces.

Embracing the communities that surround the centre, we met local historians and delved into archives to discover Eastbourne’s rich history. The modern town of Eastbourne emerged in the late 19th century; a combination of Bourne, Southbourne, Meads and Sea Houses. In our design, four distinct areas have been created - each with its own graphic identity relating to the history of the four hamlets.

The four ‘hamlets’ are linked by a vinyl “stream” - alluding to the burne or stream that rose in Old Town and flowed through the town centre, most probably underneath The Beacon as we know it today. Short extracts of text presented in every area help reinforce the link to the area’s past for shoppers moving through the space and help them find out more about the history of Eastbourne.

Each ‘hamlet’ offers different opportunities to sit, meet, talk, read, eat, work and play. The hamlets also feature characters from the world of the novel Animal Farm, written by George Orwell who attended school in Eastbourne between 1911 and 1916. Playful moments include markings for games such as hopscotch and snakes and ladders, peepholes, a slide, and social swing for up to three people in Meads. The shopping centre attracts a range of people, and the intention is to cater to all of these groups.

As with many other retail locations, the centre is moving away from the traditional retail model. - our proposals will help the building to continue to play a significant role in public life and model a new type of retail space.

“Changes in consumer needs mean that the retail sector in the UK has seen a shift in recent years. Covid has exacerbated those challenges that the industry already faced. Customers now want much more from their local shopping centres, beyond just shopping. They want places full of energy and now, more than ever, want better services, more memorable experiences and a wider variety of offers. They want a space curated for them and their community. The designs have a clear nod to the heritage of the town and will take our customers on a journey that will enhance their experience in their centre.”

Denizer Ibrahim, Head of Retail and Futuring for Legal & General Investment Management

“Absolutely loving the new designs brought to our centre! Such bright colours to brighten it up … with fun activities like the swing, the tunnels and new seating areas. Such a great idea for children and families. My little girl loves the slide and she would spend all day at the centre exploring if she could :)”

Laura Smith, a local resident


Legal & General




The Beacon, Eastbourne

Project Duration

18 Months