Hong Kong Oyster Caravel | 香港白蠔探索號



What is/are the problem/s your design is addressing?

The oyster industry in Hong Kong has a 300 years history and is a valuable intangible cultural heritage. However, in the 1980s, the industry started to decline.

Three reasons could explain the situation:

  1. In the 1980s, a lot of factories were established around the Deep Bay of Lau Fau Shan due to economic development of Mainland China. Industrial waste from the factories have polluted the surroundings and have worsened the water quality of the area. Since then, oysters cultivated in Lau Fau Shan are often reported to be containing heavy metals and are no longer being trusted to be consumed. The low demand for Hong Kong oysters is the main reason for the declining industry.
  2. Hong Kong has no index established by the government in measuring water quality of water areas in Hong Kong. Farmers do not know where would be a better place for cultivating oysters and how should they improve the quality of oysters.
  3. Slow harvesting process of oysters. Farmers have to bend down and take the oysters out from the water manually at tradition oyster rafts.

What question/s is your design investigating?

  1. How could we find out whether the certain water area is good for oyster farming?
  2. Are there other better sites for oyster farming?
  3. How could we make information about the water quality of certain water areas available to farmers and citizens so as to build up confidence towards the industry?

How does your design aim to positively impact the oyster farming community?

The structure aims at helping marine biologists to study whether a certain water area is suitable for oyster farming.

The structure is designed according to the life cycle of oysters and act as a mini oyster farm. Larvae is cultivated in the FLUPSY upwelling system at first and would be transferred to oyster baskets to be cultivated to adult oysters later. Pulley systems is used to facilitate monitoring and harvesting the oysters from oyster baskets. Scientists could explore and test different possible better sites for oyster farming with the structure.

Scientists could also collect information about the water area with the structure, such as water quality, tidal information, water current, depth of water. Solar panels included in the structure could be used to provide electricity for research devices.

The structure could also turn to serve the farmers afterward. Farmers could continue to cultivate larvae with the structure. By including micro sea cranes into the structure, it can facilitate oyster harvesting process as farmers do not need to bend down to harvest oysters manually. The solar panels of the structure could be used to power the micro sea cranes.

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Research Notes

Question Driven Design

  1. What is it? What does it do?
  2. It is a modular design of floating platform to help small local farmers culturing oysters. The solar panels above the structure can produce electricity for farmers to sell and act as an alternative way to earn revenue.

  3. What are the questions this work is asking? What new knowledge are you creating?
  4. How can we help small local farmers to sustain their business, which also sustain Hong Kong's oyster culturing industry? While culturing oysters depends on the season, the structure designed is trying to provide an alternative way for farmers to earn revenue in all seasons.

  5. How are you going to test your assumptions?
  6. Collect data of how many solar energy can be gained in one day on site. Build a smaller scale of the structure to test whether it can float well.

  7. How to maintain your device?
  8. Solar panels can be detached and wood sticks can be replaced according to needs.

  9. What do you think are the strongest and the weakest points in your project now?
  10. Strongest: easy to be assembled, disassembled, duplicated and expanded

    Weakest: durability of the structure

  11. What construction technique are you using?
  12. Simply assembling and joining the wood frame components.

User, community

  1. Who uses it? Can you draw a particular user? Can you describe to me that user, how they look, your assumption on their backgrounds, abilities, preferences, and what drives them?
  2. Particular user will be the small local oyster farmers. They might be struggling to sustain their business and to compete with the large oyster farmers. They know about how to culture oysters but might not know much about technologies and how to maximize the use of space. They might be drive by the aim to maximize their revenue.


  1. What are the benefits users can get from the device?
  2. More stable revenue.

  3. What problems does your design cause?
  4. Users need to communicate with the government about selling the electricity to the city. Perhaps they have to come up with a scheme that government would lend money to users to set up the device first, and the users promise to return the electricity generated afterwards as a repay to debt.

  5. How do you operate and maintain this installation?
  6. The collection of electricity by solar panels will run automatically. The users just need to check on progress of oysters culturing.

  7. How do people get on board?
  8. The structure is close to the land. People could just simply walk onto the structure.

  9. How much weight can you carry?
  10. Need to be further tested.

  11. How to maximum efficiency and convenience for the user
  12. Choosing a vacant site that is near to the land as well as near to the electricity substation. Therefore, electricity generated by the solar panels can be transferred to the substation easily for selling purpose.

  13. Are there simpler ways to achieve the objective?
  14. Need further explorations.

  15. Are there other possible use for clean seawater filtered by oysters?
  16. Need further explorations.

  17. How long will it be in the water?
  18. The structure will be in water for 3 to 4 years according to estimation. However, the solar panels can be reused by the newly assembled structure.

Health & Safety

  1. Is it stable? Safe? ship survivability?
  2. The structure can be anchored by linking together and to the land. It is stable and safe as long as it is not over loaded.

  3. Is the device safe and environmental friendly to the ocean
  4. The device does not generate any waste while operating so it is safe and environmental friendly to the ocean.

Materials, process, scale

  1. What is the scale and materials? Where and how is it built? Where do the materials come from? Where do the materials go after it’s used/broken?
  2. One module is 2m x 8m. The structure can be built on site by simply joining the components. Materials are wood sticks, solar panels and metal joints. Wood sticks come from the nature. The materials will either undergo biodegradation or recycled after it is used or broken.

  3. What materials would you use? Where do you source it? Once used, where does it go?
  4. Materials are wood sticks, solar panels and metal joints. Wood sticks will be sourced from the nature, solar panels and metal joints will be sourced from factories. Wood sticks will go back to the nature to undergo biodegradation, metal joints could be melted and turned into other products, and solar panels can be reused by new structure.

  5. Is it recyclable
  6. Partially yes.

  7. How long does the project take to be complete: build, bring on site and board?
  8. 3 days according to estimation.

  9. How to mass produce the device?
  10. Prefabricate the components massively and assemble on site.

Energy, Waste

  1. Where does the installation get its energy from?
  2. It gets energy from the sun.

  3. Is it sustainable and how?
  4. It is sustainable. It does not require energy to operate.


  1. Is your installation amicable to all marine lives?
  2. Yes, the structure does not disturb the marine lives. It is quiet and it does not produce any wastes while operating.

  3. How does it work? Especially the biology of it?
  4. It works while it stands and it provides spaces for farmers to culture oysters.

  5. Which other species will naturally be attracted to the oyster reef there, such as crabs, fish, mussels, algae and other species?
  6. Might be. As oysters will filter seawater during the culturing process, the cleaner water might attract marine species to the area.


  1. Where do you think this installation would be? Choose a very specific site in Hong Kong waters. Why there? Tell me the characteristics of the place: water depth, tide, current, wave, closest port, fauna and flora, people and industries nearby.
  2. Site

    Tai O

    Water Depth


    Nutrient rich shallow water is suitable for oysters to live.

    Tidal Information


    Large tidal difference benefits the culturing of oysters.

    Water Current


    Closest Ports


    Closest Electricity Substation


    People and industries nearby

    Tai O is a fishing town. There is no oyster rafts and the water is rather vacant. People in Tai O travel by small boat along the village. If the device is introduced to Tai O, it might also be able to act as floating bridge for the area to increase accessibility.

  3. Will it be influenced by the weather condition?
  4. It will be influenced by weather condition. It cannot collect solar energy when the weather is not sunny. However, the oysters culturing process should not be affected.

  5. Does your device perform differently when in different geographic environments(for instance, near shore, in shallow water, and in distant seawater)?
  6. The device will perform differently in different geographic environments. It performs better where the location has larger tidal range which the culturing of oysters depends on.


  1. Is it cost-effective?
  2. Yes. Cost required to build the structure is not high as it is simple. It does not require much skills to be assembled. The highest cost is the solar panels and the system linking the solar panels and the electricity substation.

  3. Is it possible to be mass-produced?
  4. Yes. Component of the structure can be prefabricated massively.

  5. What is the product / outcome of this installation? Who benefits from it? What is the business model of this?
  6. The outcome of this installation will be a new vision to the oyster industry in Hong Kong. Farmers of the industry and the city will both get benefits from it as it produce sustainable energy while culturing oysters at the same time.