The team behind the groundbreaking Living Coral Biobank will come together for an online discussion during Melbourne Design Week, responding to the 2021 theme of ‘Design the world you want’.

The team, consisting of members from Contreras Earl Architecture, Arup and Werner Sobek from the Great Barrier Reef Legacy, will be talking about the project which aims to have its state-of-the-art coral ark facility operational by 2026

The initiative is centred around the conservation of the world’s coral species that are under threat from climate change. Situated in Port Douglas, the biobank will house and preserve over 800 species of the world’s hard corals and will be the only dedicated facility of its kind in the world. It will be a way for future generations to experience the Great Barrier Reef, in spite of the coral bleaching that continues to plague the iconic coral reef system. 

Through a conversation about its design, engineering and holistic sustainable strategy the panel will ask, ‘How can we truly design for humanity?’ and will answer questions relevant to the topic. Monica Earl from Contreras Earl Architecture says the brief given to the practice centred around creating a building focused on ensuring the corals were in an optimal environment to preserve them for future generations.

“When designing the building, we thought first about the corals as the ‘user.’ This was a very interesting brief, as most buildings are designed with the human-user in mind. At the same time, we designed a building for the human-user to best engage and understand the intricate details and sensitivities of the living organisms on display,” she says.

“We searched for a way to display the small natural objects (coral fragments) in a way that created a stunning experiential outcome. The purpose of the building - to safeguard and guarantee the future survival of coral species - unfold to the visitor on entering.”

The ark centres around a “theatre of science”, which houses the coral in tanks. The viewing platform above allows visitors a glimpse into the importance of this building’s unique programme which is to house and maintain these small organisms that are critical and vital for the survival of the earth’s ecosystem.

Dr Dean Miller, Living Coral Biobank Project Director and Managing Director of Great Barrier Reef Legacy, says the Biobank is crucial for coral species’ survival.

“The Living Coral Biobank is the only project that can secure the living biodiversity of the world’s coral species immediately.”

“To ensure this priceless living collection is held in perpetuity for generations to come we need the world’s most advanced facility that also promises to use only renewable energy sources and function with optimum efficiency, while also creating an unforgettable visitor experience - and that’s exactly what this design delivers!”

The building will be self-sufficient and carbon neutral, and is being built in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The view seminar will take place on Friday 26 March from 5:30pm, hosted live via a Zoom webinar. Those interested in viewing the event can register here.


To read our article from 2020 regarding the design of the Biobank, click here.