Innovation That Matters

The stools are made from terracotta clay and feature intricate shapes for animal use | Photo source Marek Okon on Unsplash

Tidal stools double as shelters for marine life

Architecture & Design

3D-printed beach furniture is built for both humans and underwater creatures

Spotted: Citing the need to share space with marine life, researchers and designers at the University of Hong Kong’s Robotic Fabrication Lab created Tidal Stools as multi-use beach furniture. The stools are 3D-printed from a natural terracotta mix, ensuring that no chemicals or pollutants are released into the water. Available for human use during low tide, the stools are partially submerged during high tide, transforming them into environments for marine creatures to use.

The team took inspiration from China’s classic ceramic stools that have been in production for more than one thousand years and are often used in outdoor settings. The intricate shapes of each stool have their origin in mangrove roots, a plant native to the area and known for its spectacularly complex growth patterns. The clay’s natural dark colour blends well with the existing shoreline, which highlights the project’s commitment to environmental conversation.

The Lab is part of the Faculty of Architecture’s KHUrbanLabs project that focuses on using public-facing designs to solve some of society’s most pressing problems. Conservation of the natural environment is part of that, as many seaside communities have reshaped their shorelines to make space for more buildings.

Thirty stools of varying height and size were installed in early 2022, and the team continues to monitor their condition and use. The expectation is that eventually the stools will biodegrade.

More and more creators are using 3D printing for their innovative designs. Springwise has spotted artificial reefs made from cremated remains and 3D-printed chairs made from recycled fishing nets.

Written By: Keely Khoury




Download PDF

Springwise Services:
Our expertise in spotting the latest innovations is the best resource to empower your team’s future planning.

Find out More