a monumental underwater city is imagined to revitalize endangered coral reefs

a monumental underwater city is imagined to revitalize endangered coral reefs

inspired by jules verne’s 20,000 leagues under the sea, the illustrated project by yunil nam entitled ‘the reef of silence’ is an exploration of a funerary venue and coral cultivation facility. through this fictional underwater structure, nam investigates the cultural and environmental issues in indian ocean. the designer studies the traditions of indian zoroastrianism, which involves the depiction of an historical and religious funerary place called ‘tower of silence.’ this tower is told to have the purpose of revitalizing endangered vultures which prey upon the dead bodies of humans. nam expresses the mixed media project through intricate pencil drawings, paper cut collage, and digital photomontage.

yunil nam reef silence
all images by yunil nam



through ‘the reef of silence,’ yunil nam proposes a process of decay and regeneration in the form of visionary burials called ‘tectonic vultures.’ this system consists of such new techniques in body decomposition as freeze-drying and liquefaction, transforming the human body into nutrients in the forms of powder and liquid. coral, the urban infrastructure of marine life, is then fed by those processes and subsequently reverted back into its natural condition. although these tectonic vultures are the most crucial components in this rehabilitation, a manipulated architectural skin plays a significant role as an underlying foundation for the growing coral. eventually, this substructure will be covered entirely in an amassment of growth and become a natural reef structure establishing a new underwater city of marine life.

yunil nam reef silence



the intricately detailed pencil drawings depicts the monumental scale of the underwater structure with a dramatic contrast between light and shadow. the drawings are likened to those of giovanni battista piranesi’s eighteenth century ‘carceri’ series with disorientingly dense infrastructure, while the unfathomable scale of the project in relation to the human recalls the unrealized ‘cenotaph for sir isaac newton’ drawn in 1784 by étienne-louis boullée. the imagined structure is suggestive of such architectural motifs from antiquity as the arcade and the coffered dome, while the sectional drawing is rendered with a heavy, thickened poché.

yunil nam reef silence yunil nam reef silence yunil nam reef silence yunil nam reef silence yunil nam reef silence



project info:


project title: the reef of silence

author: yunil nam

year: 2015-2016

awards: winner of jacques rougerie competition 2016, finalist of krob drawing competition 2016

medium: pencil, paper cut collage, digital photomontage

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    architecture news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    503,278 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample
    designboom magazine