fbpx Biennale Architettura 2021 | Self-Assembly Lab
La Biennale di Venezia

Your are here

Self-Assembly Lab

Building With Waves: Growing Islands And Coastlines Through Wave

  • TUE - SUN
    22/05 > 31/07
    11 AM - 7 PM

    01/08 > 21/11
    10 AM - 6 PM
  • Central Pavilion
  • Admission with ticket

Skylar Tibbits (American, b.1985), Schendy Kernizan (American, b.1985), and Jared Laucks (American, b.1985) of MIT Self-Assembly Lab (USA, est.2013) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA, est.1861) with Sarah Dole (Sri Lankan, b.1988) and Hassan Maniku (Maldivian, b.1989) of Invena (Maldives, est.2019), with Tencate (multinational, est.1953)



As climate change progresses and sea levels continue to rise, island nations and coastal regions face a growing risk of going underwater. With more than 40% of the world’s population living near coastlines, it is imperative to find novel approaches to address this mounting threat. Through research on selfassembly and self-organization this project proposes to collaborate with the natural forces of ocean waves and the accumulation of sand to be able to grow sandbars, islands, and beaches over time. Typical attempts to fight coastal erosion rely on static physical barriers or continual coastal dredging, which attempt to resist constantly changing natural forces. Here, the goal is instead to work with the forces of nature, harnessing waves to build rather than destroy. Realized with collaborators in the Maldives, Building With Waves presents and deploys submersible devices that utilize wave forces to accelerate and guide the accumulation of sand in strategic locations. By adapting the shape and placement of the devices to seasonal changes and storm directions, the approach aims to grow sand topographies naturally and sustainably. If this radical approach is successful, it has the potential to change the long-term viability of island nations and coastal regions.

Biennale Sneak Peek

Image 1 – How will we live together?
A satellite image of the site in the Maldives with overlaid bathymetry data and predominant environmental forces.


Image 2 – Sneak peek of the project
A photograph from lab experiments showing self-organizing sand patterns due to wave frequencies. 


Department of Architecture, MIT School of Architecture + Planning
MIT International Design Center
MIT National Geographic

Central Pavilion
See on Google Maps

Share this page on

Share on FacebookShare on XShare on LinkedINSend via WhatsApp
Biennale Architettura
Biennale Architettura