Photo of a gull flying along a rocky beach

Eco-sensitive Design

Check out our experiments testing eco-sensitive designs for artificial structures around our coasts. Upload photos and tell us what you think of them!

Check out our Ecostructure experiments

The Ecostructure project is looking for ways to enhance biodiversity on artificial structures found in the sea. Artificial coastal structures are often home to a variety of marine wildlife. But they are not as good as natural habitats. Sea creatures need refuges from predators and shelter from environmental stressors (e.g. drying out, temperature changes or waves). These features are often absent on structures such as harbour walls and breakwaters. Our researchers are looking for ways to maximise the value of artificial structures for nature and for the coastal communities that can benefit from a healthy and productive natural environment. We are testing eco-sensitive designs to make more space for nature on artificial structures. These include artificial rock pools and seaweed canopies, and different building materials that might be better for marine life to live on.

Ecostructure stakeholder perception study sites are at Malahide Marina and Kilmore Quay Harbour in Ireland and Rhyl, New Quay and Prestatyn in Wales.

Take part in our COASTAL MAPPING projects Check them out, snap a picture and tell us what you think! Map now

We are also interested in what people think about these experiments and their shoreline* (the harbour, marina or natural coast) more generally. Take part in our Survey Eco-Engineering Perception Survey


All sorts of marine life take refuge in rockpools when the tide goes out. These bolt-on units are designed to mimic those habitats on seawalls. Read more about ArtEcology’s designs at

Drilled Pits & Crevices

Simply drilling holes and crevices into surfaces can provide shelter for animals by providing shade from the sun at low tide and protection from waves.

Groove-y Tiles

These groove-y tiles create more complex surfaces for marine life to attach to. They were created by Reef design lab for the World Harbour Project.
On the rock groynes we have installed some eco-engineered rock pools to test if they will function like natural rock pools and promote biodiversity on the groynes.

How does it work?

We created rock pools by drill-coring cylindrical holes in the boulders. When the tide comes in the holes fill up with sea water, then as the tide retreats, the water is retained. Et voila! – they become rock pools.

Life in the rock pools

It takes time for rock pool communities to establish. You can already see common species like barnacles, limpets and green ‘Sea Lettuce’ (a seaweed) in most of the pools. There are also lots of shannies (small fish) and juvenile crabs and snails hiding amongst them, although these are harder to spot!

What information are we looking for?

Illustration of a plant in a Florence flask

Your Observations

If you come across any of our Ecostructure experiments, let us know what you see. How do they look? What species are using the new habitats? Please don't disturb the experiments – they are important for our project and for nature!

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Your Thoughts

Tell us what you think about our experiments. Do you think they are a good idea? Do you think they will work? Do you like how they look? Which one do you prefer?

Start inputting your information to the map now!