The disappearance of coral reefs and the ecosystems that depend on them is a perennial source of bummer news. Well, we’ll spare you that for now, because a ceramic designer from Australia has a clever idea to help the reefs using ceramics that link together like life-saving Legos.
Alex Goad has a BA in Industrial design from Monash University. His final project for the course was his reef project, titled MARS (modular artificial reef structure). The work won the Hills Young Australian Design Award for Sustainability and the Australian James Dyson Award. Today Goad pushes the project further by partnering with David Lennon to start the Reef Design Lab.
Huffington Post explains the concept:
After testing concrete, metals and ceramics, Goad learned that because ceramics and coral have a similar chemical composition — both contain calcium carbonate — organisms are more apt to colonize on ceramic surfaces than on other artificial materials, and therefore it was the best choice for man-made reefs, Goad told The Huffington Post in an email.
“Ceramics has been used in the aquarium market for the last 50 years and is the go-to material for transplanting sensitive coral,” he said.
The ceramic slip Goad uses to build MARS is food grade ceramic and does not contain lead or other toxins present in some mixtures of ceramic. So long as the ceramic is fired to the correct temperature, “the material is completely inert and in a solid state,” he says, meaning that even if there were toxins present they would not be available for uptake by marine organisms.
The product aims to be accessible and adaptable to all types of communities suffering reef damage. MARS will also be affordable and easy to build on site, Australia Geographic reports.
“[It] is designed to be implemented by hand to avoid the costs of barges and cranes required for conventional artificial reefs products,” Goad told HuffPost. “Many communities that have experienced reef decline are often not able or willing to invest in restoring their damaged reef, which is why we want the product to be as affordable as possible.”
Aesthetically, we like the way the ceramics take on the patina of their environment. Hopefully Goad can continue his work and help us put a bandaid on one of our more notable screwups as a species.
Love contemporary ceramic art + design? Let us know in the comments.