designer maor bezner has collaborated with ECOncrete tech to create new underwater infrastructure that will minimize the disruption of local marine ecosystems. the resulting product called ‘biopod’ is a reinterpretation of a common tetrapod breakwater unit, and intends to bridge the structural and functional gaps between the natural habitats of marine biology and submerged concrete developments. 

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all images courtesy of maor bezner

the majority of marine infrastructures is made from concrete, thanks to its unique characteristics: it is strong, easy to mass-produce, and relatively durable. however, introducing this material into shallow water ecosystems disturbs the fragile balance that supports thriving oceans and seas. concrete is not a suitable substrate for underwater environments for two reasons. firstly, due to the difference in material composition, which creates higher acidity and can leach toxicity into the water. and secondly, because the surface area of the concrete itself, as a result of mass production technologies, is homogenous and smooth, making it difficult for the species to create nests. 

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after researching the marine ecosystems of the israeli coastline along with the marine scientists from ECOncrete, maor bezner mapped out the design principles behind the natural coastal habitats. with this information, and with the help of parametric design software, he was able to create a suitable surface that can help local marine biology to continue thriving on and around the concrete infrastructure.

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the biggest challenge of the project was trying to apply this design in a mass production method. after further research of ‘traditional’ concrete casting technologies, the designer implemented a technique from the plastic injection molding industry and converted it to fit conventional concrete casting molds. ‘this was a turning point in the project, because it offered a commercially viable path, where I could integrate the design needed for marine biology in the fabrication methods familiar to concrete marine infrastructure’s mass-production’ bezner says. 

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to test if these designed habitats are meeting their purposes, the designers deployed different models along the herzliya coast. after being submerged in the sea for four months, the concrete blocks came to life. once the biological and ecological value was validated, it was important to make sure that the new technology could be fitted easily and cheaply to any custom mold used in the industry. furthermore, it was important to choose a specific marine infrastructure to design with the new technology. bezner chose to redesign a tetrapod. 

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a tetrapod is a very common breakwater unit; it is estimated that nearly 50 percent of japan’s 35,000 kilometers (22,000 mi) coastline has been covered or somehow altered by tetrapods. after fitting the new technology to a classic tetrapod mold, the ‘biopod’ was created, taking its name because of the unique bio habitat pods inside each of its ‘legs’. the interaction between individual biopod units mimics the interplay of regional marine ecosystems.

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biopod units bridge the ubiquitous gap between sustainable designs and technical/structural solutions. instead of disrupting native ecosystems, with innovative thinking and responsibility for long-term impacts, sustainable designs can become more than a buzzword. they can become a catalyst for change.

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project info:

name: biopod
designer: maor bezner
in collaboration with: ECOncrete tech

designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom