A Volvo Living Seawalls Installation


A global response to the impact of increasing
urbanisation on coastlines has been brought to Sydney with the unveiling of one
of the world’s largest Living Seawalls at Milsons Point.


Over the last 200 years more than
half of Sydney’s vibrant marine habitats along the harbour foreshore have been
replaced with man-made seawalls. These
seawalls are typically flat and featureless and support lower biodiversity
compared to the natural habitats they replaced.


To begin restoring the balance
Swedish car maker Volvo has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine
, Reef Design Lab and North Sydney Council to create one of the world’s
largest Living Seawalls at Milsons Point. 


The Living Seawall consists of fifty
3D-printed tiles that have been
designed to mimic the root structure
of mangrove trees. They have been
to the existing seawall to help improve marine biodiversity and water quality.

Each tile features tiny nooks and crannies that give
marine life a place to live and hide, just as they would in a natural mangrove
This attracts filter-feeding organisms that absorb and
filter out pollutants, such as particulate matter and heavy metals.

Living Seawalls Launch at Milson's Point


Within a week of installation oysters, molluscs, and
filter-feeding organisms will begin colonising the Living Seawall, helping to
combat the effects of urbanisation and pollution in our waterways.


“We’ve lost 50 percent of the world’s
mangrove forests, and in their place, we’ve built things like seawalls, which
proliferate around Sydney Harbour. Tearing down the seawalls is not viable,”
said Nick Connor, Managing
Director of Volvo Car Australia


“There’s a
Swedish word, omtanke, that means ‘caring’ and ‘consideration’. I think that really captures what we’re
trying to achieve with the Living Seawall, and it sums up Volvo’s approach to
sustainability in general. We’re always trying to rethink, reinvent, redesign
for the better.”


To install the Living Seawall, Volvo partnered with North
Sydney Council, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science,
and Reef Design Lab, a Melbourne-based
designer of marine habitat infrastructure.


North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson said:
“These new habitat tiles on our seawalls have the potential to help rejuvenate
Sydney Harbour by bringing more marine life back into our waters. I hope to see
other harbourside councils follow our lead in supporting initiatives that have
huge environmental benefits for our waterways.”


Alex Goad, Industrial Designer at Reef Design
Lab, said: “Volvo’s Living Seawall shows what can be done when we’re designing
and building coastal structures around the world. It’s about making these
structures as beneficial to the environment as possible.


“Living Seawall flips a harmful structure
into a marine habitat and presents a unique opportunity to research which
specific designs and geometries are the best to support the ecosystems in our


Associate Professor Melanie Bishop from the Sydney
Institute of Marine Science and Macquarie University said: 
are delighted to partner with Volvo, Reef Design Lab, and North Sydney Council
on the Living Seawall project, which draws upon several decades of scientific
research on greening Sydney Harbour.


“The comprehensive
monitoring and evaluation program that accompanies the installation will
provide important information on the environmental benefits of adding
surface area and complexity to enhance
the existing seawalls and will provide the basis for expanding to further
seawall sites in Sydney.”

The Living Seawall installation celebrated at Bradleys Head is part of a wider collaborative research project with multiple partnerships.  Read more here