Storyteller Award - Middle School

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 13: Climate Action

2021 Youth Design Challenge

This design concept was developed by participants in the Institute’s Youth Design Challenge. The descriptions below are from the team’s competition entry materials.

School: Tokyo International School
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Coach: Andrew Bell
Team members: Pedro Ishitani Christofolo, William Hogg

physical model
Image: Project Team / Copyright © - All rights reserved

Innovation Details

A dolos is a massive concrete block with a complex geometric shape that is piled in large numbers for coastline protection against the erosive force of waves. The Coral Mangrove Dolos is a concept for a new type of dolos that provides similar protection, without the environmental footprint of concrete, while also helping to rebuild coral reefs. The team’s design has a lattice-like structure that integrates features inspired by both mangrove roots and coral reefs. These features help to reduce wave energy and erosion, and provide space in which natural coral can become established, increasing the strength of the overall installation.


What is the problem addressed for this Challenge and how is it related to climate change?

Due to climate change in recent years, the team noticed how there are changes in weather patterns with the intensity and frequency of storm surges and violent waves increasing all over the world. This damages coastline properties and causes coastline erosion leaving those who live near the ocean with fear. It was also noticed how the material used in dolos which is concrete is not environmentally friendly which can cause destruction for marine life, along with the fact that coral reefs have recently been declining due to bleaching, rise of sea temperature, human interaction and violent waves.


What does this design solution do? How does it solve and improve a problem?

The product is a dolos that blocks violent waves from storm surges caused by changes in weather patterns from climate change. The intertwined wooden pieces and styrofoam balls will resist aggressive waves. Due to the minor gaps, when the product is struck by a violent wave, it reduces initial shock by releasing the water flow, making it more gentle. By doing so, it can protect coastline properties from natural disasters caused by climate change. The lattice-like structure mimics the artificial coral reefs and makes coral easier to grow onto, further strengthening the product and acting as part of the dolos.


How was this solution inspired by nature? What organisms inspired it?

The complexity of the outer structure which is the intertwined styrofoam balls and wooden pieces is inspired by coral reefs. In fact, coral reefs reduce as much as 97% of total wave energy, resisting and breaking through the waves, greatly limiting the impacts towards the protected land and calming the water. To add on, the inner root-like structure is specifically shaped like the roots of the mangrove making it densely packed. In fact, mangroves have a complex and dense root structure that absorbs and reduces wave height and energy as they pass through.