MARS was implemented on Summer Island in the Maldives in conjunction with their coral farm in July. They have had a lot of success growing corals in deeper water and we will be comparing the differences between ceramic and concrete surfaces for coral colonisation. Alex has redesigned the system especially for this Summer Island project, watch the BBC Earth video above.
MARS is also currently on display at the BSA Space in Boston
The MARS Project
The Modular Artificial Reef Structure is an ongoing project designed by Alex in 2013 to be used in conjunction with coral farming and reef restoration projects. The damage to coral reefs globally is now a well covered and documented reality caused by a myriad of environmental pressures including warming ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, polluted river runoff and destructive fishing practices.
One method that communities around the world are using to mitigate the damage to coral reefs is to develop coral farms/nurseries where a variety of species can be grown and eventually relocated back to natural reef areas. These farms have had varying success around the world yet the majority have made a meaningful impact. New farming methods are constantly being developed and are dependent on the criteria of the area and species of coral being grown. It is common practise to use underwater structures to grow fragged corals on such as coral trees, bio rock structures, steel tables, pipes and concrete blocks.
MARS reimagines these artificial reefs as a three dimensional lattice that can be deployed from small boats and implemented by divers similar to an underwater lego set. This completely eliminates the need for heavy-duty machinery. The system is then built depending on the needs of the coral farm or based on the restoration goal. Each unit is 3D printed and moulded in ceramic using the age old process of slip casting. The hollow forms are then filled with marine concrete and steel reinforcement. The surface design allows for corals to be easily transplanted using 3 attachment methods; wire ties, epoxy glueing and manual jamming between arms. The ceramic material is one of the best transplanting surfaces as it is completely inert. Once implemented the system provides a rigid structure for transplanting corals but also provides important habitat protection for other species that may be inhabiting the area.
MARS is essentially an experiment merging design, sculpture and architecture with the intention of furthering knowledge and community engagement.