Modular Artificial Reef Structure (MARS) by Reef Design Lab

NatureStructure is infrastructure designed for nature; work created to nurture and repair ecosystems and habitats and integrate natural processes into the built environment.

The history of the built environment could be considered a battle against nature: barricading cities and coasts with sea walls, building over wetlands and green terrain, dividing migration routes with motorways. Tremendous effort has gone into the long war against the natural world.

Yet as sea levels rise and the severity of floods, droughts, and climate change increase—while species and habitats decrease—such efforts to conquer nature have proven to be futile at best and destructive acts of ego at worst.

NatureStructure represents an end to the battle against nature.

NatureStructure embraces nature as a core element of the built environment. Norwegians have a phrase for it: “Spille på lag med naturen” – “To play on the same team as nature.” The Dutch call it “Building with nature.”

“Nature is already, in its forms and tendencies, describing its own design. Let us interrogate the great apparition, that shines so peacefully around us.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first exhibition of NatureStructure was launched at the Boston Society of Architects. It introduced a range of ideas to US audiences for the first time: the Delfland Sand Engine, a feat of engineering that uses coastal tides to distribute sand along the coast of the Netherlands to reverse erosion and protect against sea level rise; Pop-Up, a revolutionary parking garage by Denmark’s Third Nature that rises in the city scape as its base absorbs rainwater overflow; and 3D printed reefs and seawalls by Australia’s Reef Design Lab to repopulate Sydney Harbor sea life and counter the depletion of reefs in the world’s oceans.

NatureStructure’s work and research continues, and each week new examples emerge to show how a new generation of infrastructure is facing a changing climate and damaged environment in nature-centric, synergistic, collaborative ways; integrating with the new realities we face, not ignoring them.

Top Image: Modular Artificial Reef Structure (MARS) by Reef Design Lab