Clay, Organic matter


Made in

Paper 24 Regenerative 49 Clay 15 Coffee ground 9 Mycelium 23 Seeds 5

Clay, Organic matter

Photos: Max Latour, Pierre Oskam

Urban Reef

The project consists of the The Zoo Reef and the Rain Reef.

The Zoo Reef was initially intended to make fountains greener. An ecosystem can be created around the 3D-printed complex structure of the Zoo Reef. As an architect designing a building for an inclusive and diverse group of residents Urban Reef envisions structures that contain a complex labyrinth of interconnected spaces. Different microclimates are created by differentiating in sizes, but also in the orientation in relation to sun, wind and rain. Instead of being determining top-down, the project explored a range of different habitats for organisms to live in.

Rain Reef is a 3D-printed and irregularly shaped rain collector from a porous material that disconnects a downspout from the sewer. When the Rain Reef becomes saturated by the collected rainwater, it becomes accessible to vegetation growing on the outside. The complex geometry ensures that as much water as possible is absorbed and that the variety of microclimates increases the potential growing area for vegetation. In addition to using the rainwater to stimulate biodiversity, a buffer is created. To optimise this, the Rain Reef anticipates the weather forecast via built-in sensors and the Internet Of Things, allowing the rain collector to drain when rain is forecast and store water in times of drought. Urban Reef will continue to experiment, research and look for new collaborations.

Additional information

The designers wanted to ensure that plants, insects and animals would want to settle in the Reefs. With this, Urban Reef stimulates biodiversity, solutions for climate adaptation (extreme drought or rainfall) and the startup contributes to a paradigm shift in our relationship with nature in the city. In this way, Urban Reef bridges the gap between architecture, eco-philosophy and human participation in the built environment. Through interventions in public spaces, we can create places that give natural processes room to grow, make invisible dynamics visible and potentially enhance our awareness of our living environment.

To develop a material that is porous, durable and bio-receptive, Urban Reef conducted numerous experiments with biomaterials, like cooking. That took a lot of time to make the best dishes with the right ingredients and recipes, after many failures. To do so, the project was about kneading clay by hand and printing all kinds of strengths, thicknesses and structures, mixed it with coffee, mycelium, seeds, paper and dredge. Another research was exploring which shapes would best support the growth of mycelium or plants.

Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.


Clay, seeds, mycelium, coffee ground


Citylab 010, Stimuleringsfonds, Gemeente Rotterdam, Droom & Daad