volvo develops 3D-printed 'living seawall' to save the world's oceans from plastic pollution

volvo develops 3D-printed 'living seawall' to save the world's oceans from plastic pollution

in an effort to combat ocean plastic pollution, swedish car maker volvo has partnered with the sydney institute of marine science and reef design lab to develop the living seawall. made up of 50 3D-printed tiles that mimic the root structure of mangrove trees, the project aims at adding complexity to the existing seawall structure and provide a habitat for marine life.


video and images courtesy of volvo



according to research, one garbage truck of plastic enters the world’s oceans every minute, while more than half of sydney’s shoreline is artificial since rich, vibrant habitats have been replaced with seawalls and degraded by plastic pollution. on top of organizing beach clean-ups all over the world, volvo has partnered with the sydney institute of marine science and reef design lab to design the living seawall as a means of aiding biodiversity and attracting filter-feeding organisms. the more organisms attracted, the more they actually absorb and filter out pollutants – such as particulate matter and heavy metals – keeping the water ‘clean’. the 3D-printed tiles are installed along an existing seawall structure in sydney harbor, while researchers will monitor the living seawall for the next 20 years as it improves biodiversity and water quality.

volvo develops 3D-printed 'living seawall' to save the world's oceans from plastic pollution



project info:



name: living seawall

designer: volvo, sydney institute of marine science, reef design lab

  • Are you really sure that those tiles will not erode in the seawater during the next 20 years, thus polluting the ocean with microplastics?
    It seems this is not a solution, but part of the problem

    ta says:
  • Er…and these tiles are printed of WHAT material again? Probably thermoplastics? Come on…
    Let’s hope they can be made of a mineral material like clay, china, concrete or like, otherwise this is…you know…

    Dirk says:
  • They are 3d printed from ceramic filled resin then kiln fired resulting a solid ceramic tile. No marine pollution.

    Ioan says:
  • The tiles aren’t 3D printed. They’re made from marine grade concrete, cast in 3D printed moulds.

    g says:
  • Wait a sec! I don’t get it: how does having filter-feeding organisms remove pollutants by absorbing them? Those organisms mußt be then themselves be removed from the ocean¡

    Donald Ponder says:
  • Ponder: Removing these organisms from the ocean would be devastating for all life earth. They are critical to our food chain and help keep our oceans clean by filtering out and consuming certain kinds of pollution. They can handle a little toxin from man made polution and microplastics, but that ends up working it’s way up the food chain.

    Our best solution is to reduce the amount of trash we throw out there. But if we all did nothing, the problem will eventually solve itself in time after the last human dies of an uninhabitable earth.

    Ren says:
  • I don’t understand the comments on here. We’re not talking about removing organisms. We’re talking about attracting them, which means providing them with a stable structure for them to grown on. If anyone did any research before posting comments they’d realise that these structures are acting as “replacement” walls as our reefs disappear. They’re not a perfect substitute, but artificial walls like this, thanks to their irregular structure, increase chances of organisms clinging on and making a new home. Something they can’t do on flat smooth surfaces so much. The idea is that by providing an ideal environment we’d attract more organisms to settle there and grow.

    Roxane says:

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
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.

design news

keep up with our daily and weekly stories
502,528 subscribers
- see sample
- see sample