Resilient Coastal Cities

Spring 2017 | Group Project

In partnership with the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA, the Resilient Coastal Cities is an engaging exhibit that communicates a call to action for the residents of Long Beach and other coastal cities for resiliency in the face of climate change.

*Parts of the exhibit will be installed by the end of 2017 and on view for one year.

Introduction ––

This project explores how design and science can come together in an exhibition to educate Aquarium visitors and residents of Long Beach on the effect of climate change on coastal cities – and empower them to take immediate personal and community-based action, making Long Beach the model for a climate resilient coastal city.

Meet the Group ––

Environmental designers:

Cooper Dai

Allie Kollias

Phylicia Leinweber

Rensi Ying


Interaction designer:

Catherina Han


Product designer:

Longtao Wang



Rob Ball, Chiara Ferrari

Together we research, ideate and make decisions on the main concepts.

Later in the term, we were divided into three small groups. Rensi and I

were in charge of the “food” part which consists three small exhibits locate around the cafe area.

Our Challenge ––

For many coastal cities, climate change will bring environmental hazards such as sea level rise, coastal flooding, drought, air pollution and an increased number of hot days. Sea level rise will affect more than half of the 6.8 billion people worldwide who live near the coast as well as the hundreds of millions residing near low-level coastal areas. With a diverse population of nearly a half million people, the City of Long Beach is vulnerable to all these challenges.


Our goal is to make Long Beach a model of climate change preparedness by helping to raise public awareness and to develop a sense of urgency to mitigate the causes and adapt to the consequences.

Project Outcomes ––

There are six exhibits in total leading visitors from the parking lot throughout the Aquarium,

but because of the open design structure, they can be experienced in any order.

1. Construction Wall

Incorporating a soon-to-be construction wall that will shield the building of the Aquarium’s newest additions, this outside wall near the main pedestrian walkway depicts the image of the Aquarium and the underwater scene with hints of the exhibits that people will find inside the Aquarium.

2. Sam’s Energy Lab

Sam’s Energy Lab is a shipping container placed outside of the Aquarium at the entrance. Visitors can explore inside the container to learn about our energy consumptions and alternative energy sources.

3. The HUB

As visitors entering the Aquarium, they will find the HUB at the entrance. At the HUB, the major concept: A F.E.W. Choices with Big Impact is introduced. F.E.W represents food, energy and water, which are the most important aspects of sustainability and the key to a healthy future. F.E.W. involves information and simple day-to-day choices that individuals can adapt to reduce the threat of climate change. Three exhibits corresponding to the F.E.W are also introduced at the HUB.

* I created a separate projection mapping project based on the topic of sustainable fishing; the projection is designed to be shown next to the HUB. 

Click the        to see more about my projection mapping project.

4. What We Eat Makes a Difference

This exhibit takes place at the scuba cafe in the Aquarium and consists of 3 parts: the graphics on the walls at the stairs, the fish mobile hanging from the ceiling above the stairs and the banners inside the cafe. The main idea is to educate people about our oceans and overfishing; to encourage people to take action by choosing sustainable seafood.


I was in charge of this exhibit, scroll down or           to see more details and process for this specific exhibit.

5. Powered by Us

An interactive exhibit that informs visitors about ocean/aquatic creatures that generate their own energy to sustain themselves whether it is electrical currents or bioluminescent reactions. The “eel” lights up and shows a message as visitors touch its surface.

6. A Sea of Change

An exhibit where visitors can discover messages with fun illustrations about the ocean, water pollution, and the actions we can take to help protect the ocean.


Process ––

This project was really different from other school project I’ve participated. This time the project is real and going to be built. In addition to the concept, we also need to consider all aspects that would come up including fabrication, cost, suitable messages that can be understood by all audiences, etc.


I made a few notes to remind myself about these aspects throughout the semester.

We were divided into three small groups of two and each group was in charge of one topic: food, water and energy.

I first did a round of research on relevant topics and issues can be addressed in the cafe area. And also looked at the solutions and actions people can take to help. 


Some key points from the research:


- 80%  of the world's fish stocks are overexploited. 

- Overfishing is a vast problem throughout the world’s oceans.
- If we are to continue at this rate, we will be completely fished out in less than 50 years. 

- 1.2 billion people depend on fish as their source of protein in their daily diets 

- Sustainable fishing guarantees there will be populations of ocean and freshwater wildlife for the future. 

- Aquatic environments are home to countless species of fish and invertebrates, most of which are consumed as         food.


Some references and inspirations from other exhibits:

Ideation (4 possible ideas each representing a topic we want to address)

After our discussion in the group, we chose two ideas to elaborate.

We presented our ideas to the Aquarium and received valuable feedback.


For Exhibit 1:

The entrance of the cafe is not the best place to show our exhibit because of the flow of visitors.

Also it's very likely that kids would swing or grab the fish.

The stairway can be a better alternative location since the ceiling is very high and visitors won't block the traffic.

For Exhibit 2:

They liked the idea, but the sensors can be tricky to deal with. They were worried about kids keep throwing random things in the bins.

After our presentation, we toured around the Aquarium again and make final decisions on the location for our exhibits.

Final Design ––



Graphics on the wall and on the stairs

Dimensions and Fabrications



© 2018 Catherina Han