The paper discusses the implications of placing artificial structures within ocean ecologies and the culture of human interventions that aid ecological networks. The role of the architect is examined in relationship to the design and development of non-human habitats and the potential for utilizing architectural skills within interdisciplinary collaborations with scientific partners. Here we propose an expanded agency of the architect within addressing ecological problems in the Anthropocene.

Our work explains the design and digital fabrication process for generating prototypes of artificial substrates for the settlement of sexually produced coral larvae to be used for outplanting in natural reef ecosystems for restoration initiatives. The project CoralPlugs builds on existing strategies for propagating corals in coral reef ecosystems affected by coral bleaching, aiming to provide substrates that are affordable to outplant on a large scale and that would protect coral colonies from fish grazing and algal growth in the early stages of development. The proposed designs were optimized with the organism’s needs and 3D printing in mind to provide structures that can be fabricated locally by communities through open-source distribution of digital blueprints.