at the Chair of Computer Science in Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, Bauhaus-University Weimar (2021)

TITLE: A Framework for Artificial Coral Reef Design: Integrating Computational Modelling and High Precision Monitoring Strategies for Artificial Coral Reefs – an Ecosystem-aware Design Approach in times of Climate Change (2015–2021).

MENTORS: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sven Schneider, Prof. Dr. Jan Willmann

EXAMINATORS: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Sven Schneider, Prof. Dr. Jan Willmann, Prof. Dr. Jane Burry

FUNDING: Doctoral fellowship by German Academic Scholarship Foundation, and Andrea von Braun Foundation

ABSTRACT: Tropical coral reefs, one of the world’s oldest ecosystems which support some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet, are currently facing an unprecedented ecological crisis during this massive human-activity-induced period of extinction. Hence, tropical reefs symbolically stand for the destructive effects of human activities on nature. Artificial reefs are excellent examples of how architectural design can be combined with ecosystem regeneration. However, for those who are working at the interface between the artificial and the complex and temporal nature of natural systems, the B-rep modelling legacy of computational modelling and CAD presents a challenge. The presented doctorate investigates strategies on how to apply digital practice to realise what is an essential bulwark in an unequal battle to retain reefs in impossibly challenging times. Beyond the main question of integrating computational modelling and high precision monitoring strategies in artificial coral reef design, this doctorate explores techniques, methods, and linking frameworks to support future research and practice in ecology led design contexts. Considering the many existing approaches for artificial coral reefs design, one finds they often fall short in precisely understanding the relationships between architectural and ecological aspects (e.g. how a surface design and material composition can foster coral larvae settlement, or structural three-dimensionality enhance biodiversity) and lack an integrated underwater (UW) monitoring process. Such a process is necessary in order to gather knowledge about the ecosystem and make it available for design, and to learn whether artificial structures contribute to reef regeneration or rather harm the coral reef ecosystem. For the research, empirical experimental methods were applied: Algorithmic coral reef design, high precision UW monitoring, computational modelling and simulation, and validated through parallel real-world physical experimentation – two Artificial Reef Prototypes (ARPs) in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia (2012–today). Multiple discrete methods and sub techniques were developed in seventeen computational experiments and applied in a way in which many are cross valid and integrated in an overall framework that is offered as a significant contribution to the field. Other main contributions include the Ecosystem-aware design approach, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for coral reef design, algorithmic design and fabrication of Biorock cathodes, new high precision UW monitoring strategies, long-term real-world constructed experiments, new digital analysis methods and two new front-end web-based tools for reef design and monitoring reefs. The methodological framework is offered as a finding of the research that has many technical components that were tested and combined in this way for the very first time. In summary, the thesis responds to the urgency and relevance in preserving marine species in tropical reefs during this massive extinction period by offering a differentiated approach towards artificial coral reefs – demonstrating the feasibility of digitally designing such ‘living architecture’ according to multiple context and performance parameters. It also provides an in-depth critical discussion of computational design and architecture in the context of ecologic regeneration and Planetary Thinking. In that respect, the thesis functions as both theoretical and practical background for computational design, ecologic research and marine conservation – not only to foster the design of artificial coral reefs technically, but also to provide essential criteria and techniques for conceiving them.

KEYWORDS: Artificial coral reefs, computational modelling, high precision underwater monitoring, ecological modelling in design.

COLLABORATORS: Baars- CIPRO, UWF Deutschland, Global Coral Reef Alliance, Gili Eco Trust, Dive Central Gili, F.A. Finger Institute for Material Science at the Bauhaus-University Weimar, Siemens Industry Software GmbH, McNeel

PRESS RELEASES: “Successful Doctoral Defense by Verena Vogler”, November 29, 2021. / “Congratulation to Verena Vogler”, November 28, 2021.

REFERENCE OPEN-ACCESS PUBLICATION: Vogler, V. (2022). A framework for artificial coral reef design: Integrating computational modelling and high precision monitoring strategies for artificial coral reefs – an Ecosystem-aware design approach in times of climate change. Dissertation Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, 1–243.


HIGH PRECISION 3D SURVEY RESULTS (click on thumbnails)

PROJECT WEBPAGE: Artificial Reef Design – Design and Monitoring





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