The ‘Urchin Corals’ installation brings to the surface two ecological problems in the ocean – in Port Phillip Bay in Victoria and the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. The installation consists of 3d printed corals from the shells of the Purple sea urchin (Heliocidaris erythrogramma) and the Black sea urchin (Centrostephanus rodgersii) blended with biopolymers. The corals are accompanied by two underwater films made in collaboration with Tom Park, underwater photographer and film maker. 

In Port Phillip Bay in Victoria and many other places in the world, due to anthropogenic reasons including climate change, sea urchins are exploding in numbers. They eat their way through the seaweed habitats until only an underwater desert remains. In many parts of the Port Phillip Bay this has already happened. At the Great Barrier Reef a more known disaster in unfolding. The increasingly frequent high temperatures are leading to coral bleaching and eventually to the death of corals.

While the underwater films show the remaining beauty in these two locations and the reality of the declining areas, the 3d printed corals are a snapshot into a research project on material properties of sea urchin shells and possible manufacturing techniques and geometries. The work has led to and inspired further material research we are currently undertaking for coral restoration purposes, as part of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program for the Great Barrier Reef.






Urchin Corals 2020
Photogrammetry and 3D-models of the Montipora and Pocillopora sp.: by The Hydrous
3D-models Acropora sp.: Pirjo Haikola
Research and production assistant: Javier de Urquijo Isoard
Research partner and supply of the Heliocidaris erythrogramma sea urchins: Fletcher Warren-Myers and Sustainable Aquaculture Laboratory – Temperate and Tropical (SALTT), School of BioSciences, The University of MelbournePolymer processing support: Mike Allan, RMIT Chemical and Environmental Engineering, School of Design, College of Design and Social context, RMIT University, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Calcifiers of Change No.1 2019
Film by: Tom Park
Research partner: Fletcher Warren-Myers and Sustainable Aquaculture Laboratory – Temperate and Tropical (SALTT), School of Biosciences, University of Melbourne
Vessel and crew: RMIT Underwater Club and Qing Hong Loh, Chris Peterson, Jack McQuinn
Film locations: Port Phillip Bay and Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Calcifiers of Change No 2 2021
Film by: Tom Park
Vessel and logistics: Coral Sea Dreaming
Film locations: Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Feature image: Sean Fennessy