Believe it or not, as recently as 1600, New York Harbor held an estimated 220,000 acres of oyster reefs that continually filtered regional waterways, creating natural habitats for thousands of species. Had they not been gradually destroyed by pollution and overfishing, we’d have $1 Blue Points all year long. Now, the Billion Oyster Project is building a long-term plan to restore 100 acres of oyster reefs by housing one billion live oysters in New York Harbor by 2030.
Recently, the City of Dreams Competition asked designers to propose an installation for Governor’s Island built from recycled or recyclable materials to educate the public on the historical and future importance of the region’s bivalve ecosystems. BanG Studio’s winning, Kickstarter-funded Billion Oyster Pavilion beat out hundreds of other proposals by allowing participants to construct an actual pavilion at a site that will one day be a working oyster habitat.
BanG co-founder Henry Grosman tells The Creators Project, “We’ve seen a lot of projects that call themselves sustainable because they recycle materials. But then what happens after you take down the pavilion and you’re now just throwing out or recycling those materials? We wondered if we could do better.” He says the pavilion was built with donated materials from industry partners and will be lowered into the surrounding bay to become a functioning part of the long-term oyster habitat project.
The structure itself is made up of 250 custom-cast “reef balls” made of a special concrete mixture that uses oyster shells as aggregate and are cast using a reusable, 3D-printed formwork designed, built, and fabricated in BanG’s Long Island City studios with support from Makerbot founder Bre Pettis and his 3D printing accelerator, Bold Machines. These Reef Balls are topped with a special canopy constructed of 400 aggregated modules of rebar triangles known as “oyster condos.” The canopy itself is stitched together with plastic ties and a polymore-coated marine line, creating an ideal oyster habitat.
Check out images from the Billion Oyster Project below: