If you thought that the Auckland or NYC property market was hot right now, spare a thought for the tiny and unpredictable housing market of the hermit crab. They have a complex and sometimes cooperative and sometimes aggressive strategies for occupying shells aka homes for their fragile little bodies.
Some of these strategies involve hostile takeovers of other crabs’ shells and on other occasions hermit crabs simply outgrow their abodes and need to up sticks and find a more appealing piece of real estate. But what about all of the beta level hermit crabs who never learned jujitsu? Artist Aki Inomata hit upon a solution, the ultimate in transspecies cooperation and collaboration – the creation of custom homes for hermit crabs in crises.
Instead of sticking to the conventional conch shell shape, Inomata let her imagination run wild and generated instead tiny, translucent resin structures that were customised to fit individual hermit crabs. Each purpose-built home gave a firm nod of respect a different cityscape throughout the world.
She used 3D printing techniques to replicate tiny models of cities and then like a ‘Habitat for Humanity’ humanitarian she released the homes to the hermit crab market, with gleeful results for both species. Oh what can be achieved when animals and humans work together!
Inomata designed the 3D printed housing to last long enough to be exchanged over the generations. Hopefully with such a dowry future generations of hermit crabs stand a fighting chance of finding a mate and settling down, getting a mortgage and popping out a couple of kids.