Robotic Fabrication:
Synthetic Reef

Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc)
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ADVANCED ROBOTIC FABRICATION 2019:
SHELTER FOR THE ENDANGERED HAWKSBILL SEA TURTLE 


As changes in ocean temperature continue to bleach tropical reefs and plastics infiltrate the habitats that remain, the Hawksbill Sea Turtle faces immediate extinction. With increasing distances between uncontaminated food sources and loss of the cave-like shelter that reefs provide, the Hawksbill is left significantly more vulnerable to starvation, ingesting pollutants, and poaching as they sleep exposed.

This project considers the potential for a modular synthetic reef system to both filter out plastic particles that pollute the Hawksbill's food source and provide a raised, artificial sea floor scaffold to counter rising sea levels and temperatures. Modules are designed to stack vertically, acting as both a substrate for new coral growth and a rigid system of undercuts and ledges sized for the Hawksbill to use as shelter. It is proposed that modules could be printed robotically near the oceanic site and lowered into place from boats.

Synthetic Reef is student work from our robotic fabrication course taught at SCI-Arc. We asked students to conceptualize, digitally simulate, and then prototype a synthetic habitat designed to aid in the survival of a currently endangered animal species.

Course:
Advanced Robotic Fabrication 2019: Animal House
The Southern California Institute of Architecture

Instructors:
Garrett Sutherlin Santo &
Herwig Baumgartner

Students:
Nick Gochnour, Po-Tsung Huang, Kaan Karabagli, Huan Liang, Daria Ragimova, Zac Williams
All rights reserved (c) 2007 - 2020 Sutherlin Santo.