Regenerative Marine Design: Developing a framework for design’s involvement in social-environmental-technological systems

Regenerative Marine Design is an applied transdisciplinary research project and studies social-environmental -technological coastal systems. The transdisciplinary approach enables looking into the communities as well as the ecological systems to discover how human and non-human stakeholders interact and support each other towards long-term sustainability. The project employs design as an integrative discipline, bridging diverse expertise to create scenarios and practical interventions.

Research is built on case studies, which include educational elements offering an opportunity for students to engage with real world challenges and study and develop new products, services and businesses based on social and environmental challenges and opportunities at coastal sites.

Case study I Lysekil municipality:

The first case study focusses on Lysekil municipality in Sweden, in particular to the opportunities of marine aquaculture in collaboration with Sven Lovén Centres for Marine Infrastructure in Kristineberg and Tjärnö. The municipality strategy envisions the marine research stations as hubs for innovation in the marine sector. The cultivation of seaweed, oysters and sea cucumbers e.g. provide potential for new materials and food products. Seaweed also remediates eutrophication by removing excess nutrients from the sea, it de-acidifies water and provides habitat for marine species countering anthropogenic effects. Case study utilizes design to create scenarios as well as concrete proposals for the region. The case study started with a ten-day workshop at Kristineberg marine research station with Master degree students from Aalto University in February 2019.

Boat trip with students at Tjärnö seaweed farm

Learning about local marine species

Case study II Victoria, Australia:

The case study has two main objectives; create design proposals turning problems into resources and creating awareness around the issue of sea urchin barrens. We will look into branding and communication and work together with experts to investigate new food products and materials.

The-coming design studios at RMIT University will be collaborations between design and marine and environmental sciences, allowing the participating students to learn about marine and coastal problems and possibilities of regenerative and remediating aquaculture practices. Students will learn about the sea urchin barrens; what causes them, what can be done and about the valuable properties in sea urchins. There are millions of sea urchins in Victoria alone, turning vast areas of a thriving marine ecosystem into a barren. How could we turn them from a problem to a resource? Students will also have an opportunity to learn about aquatic plants and microalgae as bioremediators and possible sources of food and materials.

What are the valuable properties in sea urchins? What could we make of them? Which bioremediating aquatic plants are nutritious and delicious? Can we create a new cuisine and delicacies? How can we brand these new ingredients and foods?

Case study III Baltic Sea, Finland: 

Third case study learns from the previous two, to address specific ecosystem imbalances (hypoxic zones and algal blooms) and investigates marine habitat restoration possibilities and seaweed aquaculture in the Baltic Sea. 



Professor Julia Lohmann (Aalto University) and Dr. Pirjo Haikola (Aalto University) in collaboration with Dr. Seona Candy (University of Helsinki).

Collaboration between the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, Helsinki and Professor Fredrik Gröndahl (KTH Stockholm) Department for Sustainable Development Environmental Science and Engineering (SEED) the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH Stockholm.


Image: seaweed farm in Tjärnö, photograph Pirjo Haikola