In 2018, artist and environmental sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor completed one of his most remarkable works: Coralarium. The installation is situated in a large coral lagoon in the Maldives. To reach this extraordinary structure visitors must snorkel or swim around 500 ft (150 m) following an underwater coral pavement that is sea-scaped with planted corals.
^ Large coral lagoon
Article by David Sear
Located on the island resort of Fairmont Sirru Fen Fushi, in the Maldives, the Coralarium is a 20-ft-tall (6 m) 316L stainless steel cube weighing about 200 tons, with the median tide sitting around 10 ft (3 m) up the façade. The building is accessed via a submerged staircase that arises above the water line to a dry elevated viewing platform.
The entire installation is designed to operate across three tiers, with some sculptures sitting on top of the cube, and others sitting well below the water line. “It exists in three different elements,” says Mr Taylor, explaining the work’s multifaceted approach. “A set of sculptures that interact with the sky and the atmosphere. There’s a set of works that are in the tidal area. They live both above the water and below the water. And then there a set of submerged works. The idea is that it’s about taking all the elements of our planet and showing that everything is connected.”
Says Mr Taylor: “I wanted to create something that existed between two worlds, a bridge that allowed us to see through the surface of the sea. A way to re-imagine our interactions with the natural world and form a controlled space where marine life can come and go as it pleases”
Coralarium is accessible by boat or a short swim from the shore and is open to snorkelers and free divers.
This unique and ambitious project took around nine months to develop and the complex structural formation utilized high-grade marine stainless steel and pH-neutral cement. The cube’s walls reference coral patterns while also being engineered to allow currents and marine life to pass through it.
At a glance
Location: Sirru Fen Fuchi, Maldives
Stainless use: main structure
Material: 316 marine stainless steel
Artist: Jason deCaires Taylor
Photographs: Cat Vinton
More information: jasondecairestaylor.com
Source: ISSF’s ‘Stainless Steel in Architectural Applications’ brochure, sixth edition