Reefs are complex designs that retain water through porosity and offer a range of microclimates that complement urban settings and extreme climates. In this way they provide microrefugia and stepping stones for urban species, increasing biodiversity. 

Urban Reef: including all life in urban design

Cities should be home to all forms of life, not just humans.

Urban Reef designs and creates habitats that encourage the growth and diversity of multiple species in urban settings. We believe that in order to live in harmony with our surroundings, we need to give more space to wilderness and nature, both physically and in our thinking.

To this end, we view cities as living landscapes. We develop prototypes called "Reefs" which are designed to be open to a wide range of forms of life. These prototypes are created using algorithms and are 3D printed with (living) materials. They can absorb water and provide a range of microclimates and nutrients, giving more organisms the opportunity to thrive in the city. 

Material research

The material research involves experimenting with natural materials for 3D printing, including mycelium, river dredge, sea shells and clay. We aim to understand the properties and potential applications of these materials for creating more sustainable and effective prototypes in the context of the bio-inclusive city. 

Bioreceptivity research

The bioreceptivity research focuses on the role that materials, shapes, and physical conditions play in creating thriving communities of organisms. Understanding these factors is crucial in creating a more inclusive urban environment that can support a diverse range of species. 

Design research

The design research focuses on computational design and 3D printing to create prototypes of the Reefs that will support the growth of the bio-inclusive city. We use computational design to create intricate designs and 3D printing to quickly produce physical prototypes for testing and refinement.

Utopia research

The utopia research works on Urban Reef's background in speculative ecological philosophy, which involves envisioning and exploring potential futures that are grounded in sustainability and environmental responsibility. This research aims to inform Urban Reef's design choices and direction as a company, aligned with its values.

Urban Reef Studio

Growlab in a greenhouse

Greenhouse Growlab

3D Ceramic Prints

Green Office

Pierre Oskam


Pierre Oskam is founder of Urban Reef and a teacher of architecture at TU Delft. Pierre holds a PhD in Design (2021) and an MSc in Landscape Architecture (2016). In his doctoral research Pierre explored the link between ecological philosophy and design. He is interested in innovative ideas and solutions for a green and connected city. 

Max Latour


Max is founder of Urban Reef, computational designer and obtained an MSc in Architecture (2020). Max is interested in creating designs that are informed by data and in which functionality and aesthetics are closely linked. As a computational designer, Max utilizes advanced design techniques to create complex and intricate designs.

Internal team

Spring 2023
Dave Matser (Utrecht University)
Rana Ibrahim (Institute of advanced architecture Catalonia)
Chuan Xu (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)
Nilum Hengst (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)

Fall 2022
Victoria Roznowski (Technical University Berlin)
Petra Sochůrková (Prague University)

Spring 2022
Julia Pongratz (Delft University of Technology)
Lieke Luikens (Hanze Hogeschool Groningen)
Matteo Volonterio (Design Academy Eindoven)

Fall 2021
Paul Huttinga (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)
Benjamin Slabbekoorn (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)
Kim Bighelaar (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)


Urban Reef would not have been possible without the support of:
Citylab010, VP Delta Dutch Water Innovation, Gemeente Rotterdam, Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, Stichting Droom en Daad, Technische Universiteit Delft, Erasmus University, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Dutch Design Foundation, Provincie Zuid-Holland and BlueCity Lab. 

Urban Reef needs your help! 

We are conducting a market survey and we need your valuable input! Participation will only take a few minutes, but will help us tremendously.