Eco-Conscious Concrete Shells by Reef Design Lab are innovative module units, ingeniously crafted with locally sourced recycled shells. They not only safeguard coastlines but also create sustainable shelter for diverse marine species like mussels and oysters. Reef Design Lab’s lotus-root-shaped modules are already placed in iconic locations like Port Phillip Bay, Dell Eco Reef in Clifton Springs, Victoria, and the City of Greater Geelong in Australia, successfully regenerating marine life.
Reef Design Lab, an innovative design company, has developed innovative concrete module units that incorporate locally sourced recycled shells. This commendable initiative aims to combat erosion in bodies of water while also establishing sustainable habitats for diverse marine species like mussels and oysters.
As a testament to their innovation, the company has successfully installed Erosion Mitigation Units (EMU) in various locations, including Port Phillip Bay, Dell Eco Reef in Clifton Springs, Victoria, and the City of Greater Geelong in Australia. These lotus-root-shaped concrete structures have proven to be a catalyst for regenerating marine life beneath the waves.
EMU were made using formwork that can be reused, and they were cast using a low-energy concrete mixture that includes recycled shells, such as oyster shells. The design of the modules, which may look like lotus roots, was intentionally chosen to minimize the number of materials needed to create them. This design also provides an ideal environment for fish and other marine species, like mussels and oysters, to grow peacefully.
The specially designed wave break modules are strategically installed to safeguard the coastlines and establish a secure environment for the aquatic life residing in these waters. According to Reef Design Lab, each module, weighing approximately 1,800 kilograms, has the capability to endure even the harshest waves.
The modules were designed with a sloping shape like rocky hills and had large holes to create inlets and spaces. This design aimed to reduce the force of waves and prevent excessive erosion along the water’s edge. These 200-centimeter-wide modules are mechanically anchored to the sandy ocean floor, ensuring their steadfastness.
Moreover, Reef Design Lab mentions that these Erosion Mitigation Units have the potential to transform into an engaging snorkeling spot for the local community. The undulating modules allow people to snorkel during high tide and explore rock pools during low tide, mimicking a natural rocky reef.
Here is the recent video of the EMU range installation at the Dell Eco Reef in Clifton Springs, Victoria, Australia.
About Reef Design Lab
Pioneering ecological performance for artificial reefs and coastal habitat infrastructure, they design, prototype, and manufacture extraordinary coastal solutions. Working alongside eminent research partners worldwide, they lead the way in creating innovative and sustainable solutions for the coast. Along with Eco-Conscious Concrete Shells by Reef Design Lab, they have launched a number of other sustainable projects all pertaining to improving marine life.
1. 3d Printed Reefs (Reef Design Lab X World Wildlife Fund)
In 2017, RDL created 3D-printed reef units for a research project by WWF Netherlands. The project aimed to restore oyster reefs in the North Sea. The units were printed in Rotterdam by Boskalis using D-shape technology. They made 50 units in different sizes and will study their progress over the next few years. This research project is one of the biggest ones focusing on assessing the material and technology’s effectiveness.
2. Artificial Reef Units
RDL created reef units to enhance habitats that were tested in various environments and proved to be successful. Various materials are used, but the most common are cast concrete units made with eco-blend concrete. Customized units are also created for specific projects and include recycled materials such as oyster shells. RDL provides molds and formwork to the site for local production and community projects.
Artificial reefs have a well-established reputation in Australia and worldwide for boosting fish populations in regions with scarce or damaged natural habitats. There are several different designs available, and studies indicate that a one-size-fits-all approach is not always optimal.
3. Bush Habitat
Macquarie University ecologist, Alexandra Carthey, commissioned RDL to create and provide a collection of biodegradable habitat structures that could be swiftly deployed after bushfires. These ingenious and economical cardboard bush habitat units are currently undergoing tests to determine their suitability as temporary shelters for ground-dwelling fauna, including bandicoots, possums, ant echinus, bush rats, and reptiles.
4. Lightweight Fish Habitat
Lightweight steel structures offer a straightforward and efficient solution for constructing habitats. These fish habitats are not only cost-effective and easy to install, but also versatile enough to be adapted for various species and research needs.
5. Living Seawalls (Reef Design Lab X Sydney Institute of Marine Science)
The living seawalls project aims to develop research-based techniques for designing marine infrastructure in the future. One approach is to use 3D printing to create cost-effective and habitat-friendly seawalls. RDL collaborates with a scientific team from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, UNSW and Macquarie University to bring the concept of living seawalls to reality. Seawalls are common structures in coastal areas, but they usually don’t provide a suitable habitat for marine animals. They are flat and lack spaces for organisms to settle.
6. MARS (Modular Artificial Reef Structure)
The system is tailored to the specific requirements of the coral farm or restoration objective. The innovative concept behind MARS involves transforming agricultural structures into a three-dimensional lattice that can be easily deployed from small boats and assembled by divers, just like an underwater Lego set. By doing this, the reliance on heavy machinery, which is often unavailable in many communities, is completely eliminated. Despite using minimal materials, this approach enables the creation of robust structures.
7. Mangrove Planters (Reef Design Lab X Melbourne University)
RDL collaborates with researchers from Melbourne University’s National Centre for Coasts and Climate for Mangrove Planters. This project studies the use of specially designed planters to grow Victoria’s native southern mangrove species for coastal defense purposes. The idea is to reuse the planters for future plantings once the initial plant has matured after 3 years. This cycle can then be repeated.
Source: Reef Design Lab