Vena 6 is an autonomous coral reef system powered by off shore wind and solar energy that monitors coral health in order to prevent and heal coral bleaching while maintaining a thriving, biodiverse reef. Through the manipulation of biorock, electromagnetic energy, crustose coralline algae, and terracotta tiles we created an underwater system designed to provide reefs assistance in revitalizing until they can successfully regenerate on their own. Vena 6 would partner with the Georgia Aquarium to provide a scale model as a sight for education, as well as a virtual reality exhibit where viewers can travel through the structure as if they were really there. Funding would be assisted by consumers purchasing the tiles, where they would then gain access to real-time video footage of the reef to monitor their contributions and watch the reef regenerate.
Coral reefs were formed over 240 million years ago, and are the longest surviving ecosystem on Earth. Due to an increase in ocean temperature caused by pollution due to human activity, our oceans are experiencing acidification, which causes organisms to be unable to reproduce and remain healthy. In effect, coral reefs are experiencing coral bleaching, a process where they expel the algae that lives in their tissue and turn white.
It is not dead, but sick and under immense stress, making them more subject to mortality. With this knowledge, we asked ourselves, "how can we use design thinking to regenerate and revitalize coral reefs." After sorting our research we determined that combining multiple components to create a regenerative system with special attention to materials and manufacturing would create the most successful outcome. We designed 3D printed calcium carbonate structures that would be intersected with steel piping, connected to an anode that sends an electromagnetic current through the steel and attracts particles of calcium carbonate to build up and create a breeding ground for coral, ultimately known as biorock.
Coupled with 3D printed terracotta tiles that feature a surface pattern designed for crustose coralline algae and a variety of coral to attach to while also providing shelter and habitat to the millions of organisms that inhabit coral reefs. The tiles are also uniquely designed to tessellate and fill in dying patches of the reef so it can expand and regenerate. By partnering with the Georgia Aquarium, Vena 6 provides an educational opportunity to all visitors to learn about the importance coral reefs have in our lives, even when it may not be obvious. By providing in depth information through an interactive exhibit, Vena 6 will foster a memorable learning experience that encourages viewers to be more cautious and perceptive of how their behaviors contribute to the planet's well-being.
The Georgia Aquarium would install a scale model that explains how Vena 6 works through interactive elements as well as a virtual reality exhibit where viewers can 'snorkel' through the real size structure as if they were really there. The goal in providing a virtual reality exhibit, is to reduce the negative impact that tourism has on coral reefs while still providing an immersive, memorable experience. To further incentivize human connection with this offshore system, Vena 6 provides consumers the opportunity to purchase tiles and gain access to real-time video footage of the underwater structure they can view anytime and monitor their contributions in revitalizing the world's coral reefs.