Tetrapods, those curious concrete structures that resemble oversized toy jacks, protect shores across the world from life-threatening waves—but they’re not environmentally friendly or sustainable. Inspired to create a “stronger yet greener sea defense” system, Taiwanese designer Sheng-Hung Lee designed the TetraPOT, a fusion between the concrete tetrapod and natural mangroves. The innovative design uses the iconic four-pronged tetrapod shape with the insertion of a biodegradable pre-seeded pot to grow mangrove trees that filter water pollution, protect the shores, and beautify coastlines.
Lee envisions the TetraPOT as a hybrid between artificial sea defense and natural sea defense, an idea encapsulated in his design slogan: “It is not only a defense, but also an ecosystem. A home for other living [things].” The TetraPOT is an opportunity to restore the world’s mangrove forests, 35% of which has been destroyed. Unlike the common tetrapod, the TetraPOT is partly hollowed out to create room for a biodegradable pot insert, soil, and space for roots to grow. When rising tides water the pre-seeded layers, the organic layers will begin to decompose and allow the mangrove trees to expand its root system through three lower openings.
Over time, roots from one TetraPOT will connect with its neighbors as well as the shoreline to reinforce the sea defense system, reducing the risk of dislodgment. The mangroves will also attract greater biodiversity to the region and help clean the air and water. Lee, who currently works with IDEO in Shanghai, plans to work with the local government to test out TetraPOT prototypes on Chongming Island. The TetraPOT has received several prestigious awards, including the James Dyson Award and red dot Design Award.
Images via TetraPOT