Miami’s coastlines are uniquely beautiful, but they face a significant existential threat similar to many major cities worldwide: sea level rise. The conventional response—building concrete seawalls—is costly and often leads to environmental issues such as erosion and habitat degradation.

Enter Miami-based Kind Designs, which is revolutionizing seawall construction through 3D printing technology. This innovative approach not only reduces costs but also benefits ecosystems. A 10-foot-tall robotic arm manufactures the seawalls layer by layer, using a technique known as “biomimicry design” to mimic natural environments. This groundbreaking method has earned Kind Designs the 2024 World Changing Ideas Award from Fast Company for companies operating between one and four years.

“In Florida, a natural marine habitat is mangroves,” explains Kind Designs CEO Anya Freeman. “The mangrove roots create caves where sea life can hide from predators. So we created a mangrove root design on the face of our seawalls, which creates holes for sea life to hide and provides texture for organisms to attach.”

Freeman founded Kind Designs in 2020 after relocating to Miami to study law. Despite lacking a professional background in engineering, marine biology, or construction, she was driven to start the company after witnessing the impacts of sea level rise firsthand—her South Beach home frequently experiencing knee-deep flooding.

By 2023, Kind Designs had raised $5 million in seed funding and secured $4 million in orders. Freeman envisions Kind Designs’ solution scaling globally, as its installation procedure integrates seamlessly with existing construction processes. “Miami will be an example for the rest of the world, or it will be a lesson,” says Freeman. “I want to make sure it’s an example.”

By Impact Lab