An Octopus’ Garden

This Spring 2018 studio took on the task of designing an artificial reef for the Redondo Beach dive site in Des Moines, Washington. This location, long used by recreational divers and citizen scientists, will soon be set aside as a leased dive site with funding from the state’s capital budget—both a success for the diving community and an opportunity for landscape architecture students more accustomed to working on land but well-versed in interdisciplinary systems thinking. Landscape Architecture students Malin Anderson, Julia Brasch, Ellie Lange, Fatema Masswood, Darin Rosselini, Jess Vetrano, and Rachel Wells built this aquatic proposal.

Illustrative site plan and reef structure components diagram (Malin Anderson, Jess Vetrano)



Reef structures at most shallow depth (Rachel Wells)

For the reef itself, we designed a complex three-dimensional structure that accommodated strict permitting requirements and a limited budget, and considered habitat restoration, public life and environmental education on the waterfront, with an emphasis on the effects of climate change. The proposed reef design will enhance permeability between upland and underwater environments by creating opportunities for public recreation, shoreline access, and environmental integrity.

Reef structures at greatest depth (Jess Vetrano)

The proposal also incorporates stakeholder needs and desires through the design of an artificial reef and associated upland improvements. Throughout the design process, we worked extensively with representatives from Seattle’s Marine Science and Technology Center (MaST) and the Washington Scuba Alliance, as well as community diving groups, marine scientists at Friday Harbor Laboratories, contractors, community members, politicians, and other stakeholders.

We created a document summarizing the studio’s process and outcomes to ensure the project will be appropriately carried forward once it is handed off to our clients, and to inspire future work in coastal rocky reef design and restoration. Upon the completion of construction documents, this project will be sent to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for permitting before implementation, Spring 2019.

Connecting structures between main reef (Ellie Lange)



Illustrative section (Fatema Masswood)


An Octopus’ Garden was published in Issue II of Extents. See the full Issue II: Materials + Matter here.

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