Reef Design Lab Habitat Panels Living Seawalls

Reef Design Lab’s Habitat Panels are living seawalls to restore the aquatic ecosystem of Sydney Harbor.

Sydney Harbor Habitat Panels
Sydney Opera House sleek harbor skirting

The sleek exterior of Sydney’s Opera House extends down its waterfront skirting, creating a smooth, inhospitable surface for the harbor’s sea life. The rest of the harbor isn’t much kinder: over 50 percent of its foreshore has been modified from a natural state with surfaces that make it difficult for species to re-establish themselves by finding shelter, homes, and spaces to lay eggs. 

At home in a habitat panel. All images courtesy Alex Goad, Reef Design Lab.

Reef Design Lab’s “Fish Apartment” Habitat Panels provide native species such as blue gropers and seahorses a place to hide from predators and re-establish their populations. The panels, which are part of their Living Seawalls product line, also allow numerous smaller aquatic species and crustaceans to live on harbor walls, providing food and returning a naturally cleansing ecosystem to the water. 

“Seawall enhancement is an opportunity that is too often missed,” says Reef Design Lab.

“Increasing the complexity of seawalls with specifically designed units enhances the commercial and environmental value by improving recreational fishing opportunities and habitat biodiversity. Living sea wall structures can also help to disperse wave energy therefore minimizing reflective waves within marinas and coastal developments.”

Reef Design Lab’s Habitat Panels originally appeared as part of the NatureStructure exhibition and book.