Update: The Living Seawall

Back in 2019 we shared one of our favourite tile-centred eco projects – Volvo’s Living Seawall. Now, three years on (and on Earth Day) we thought we’d have a look at how things have changed.

Volvo's living sea wall
Volvo’s living sea wall

Each 3D printed hexagonal tile was formed to mimic the roots of mangroves, a species once abundant on the coast of Sydney. Fifty tiles were place along these urbanised coastlines with another 108 habitat panels designed by Alex Goad from Reef Design Lab following shortly after.

habitat panels designed by Alex Goad from Reef Design Lab
Habitat panels designed by Alex Goad from Reef Design Lab

In order to measure the impact the tiles have had, scientists have been studying the growth, development, and organisms periodically since their installation. After just 6 months, over 50 species had been observed by researchers including both sessile and mobile organisms. Now that number has hit 91!

Habitat tile after 1 year of growth. Photo: Alex Goad

Sessile species are permanently attached to their host material and include algae, mussels, barnacles, tube worms, sponges and bryozoans. Observed mobile species include snails, limpets, chitons and small crustaceans such as isopods and amphipods.

The successes of the project so far are not limited to the proliferation of diverse species, but that within those species are important filter feeders such as mussles that can help improve water quality and remove contaminants. So far the wall’s observed filter feeders include the blue mussel which can clean up to 40 litres of water a day and oysters which can filter up to 200 litres of water a day.

Volvo’s Living Sea Wall

Reef Design Lab’s 3D Sea Wall

A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, April 2022.

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