Makers’ Place: Transforming Waste into Works of Art

Ever since we first opened Soneva Fushi back in 1995, we have always made sustainability an integral part of our operations, especially the ‘three R’s – reduce, re-use, recycle. The newly launched Makers’ Place is a ground-breaking new addition to our evolving portfolio of sustainable innovations. Our fully carbon-neutral island studio will recycle waste plastic and aluminium into works of art, as well as practical objects and building materials.

We’ve built the Makers’ Place in collaboration with British artist Alexander James Hamilton, founder of the Distil Ennui Studio™, whose practice spans sculpture, painting, photography, film, lighting and installation. An advocate for sustainability at a community, island and governmental level for over 35 years and, like Soneva, a passionate ambassador for the ‘Three Rs’, his art engages with the broader public sphere through interventions within natural landscapes and civic spaces alike, arts education, policy-making, issues of sustainability and ecocide.

Makers’ Place has been built from the ground up by Hamilton and his team, with hand-fabricated machinery and processes tailored to the facility’s unique island setting. With major soft drinks brands singled out as some of the world’s worst polluters, the studio aims to tackle the huge volumes of discarded plastic bottles and aluminium cans that choke the oceans, are burned in toxic fires or are dumped in landfill sites each year. Within its first three days, the studio processed 15,000 aluminium cans alone, creating a better end life for these once-discarded, unwanted materials, and removing them from the fragile ecosystem.

Through our Makers’ Place programme, we will invite artists and guests to unleash their creativity, as well as engaging with the wider community through the Soneva Namoona initiative, a collaboration between Soneva and our neighbouring islands in the Baa Atoll to eliminate ocean plastics, promote better waste management and create a more sustainable future for the Maldives and beyond.

Our bespoke facility includes a closed-loop wash station to handle the final cleaning stage of the materials, which uses an innovative two-stage filtration system using granular media and coconut charcoal produced on-site, a highly effective natural filter. Unlike standard recycling facilities which are extremely water-intensive, this efficient filtration system enables Makers’ Place to reuse its water over many months – a world’s first.

The system also uses a modified exhaust system to capture harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon emissions when heating plastic or melting shredded aluminium, which uses activated carbon granules to ensure only clean air leaves the studio.

At the end of their life, both the water and VOC filters are transformed into concrete building blocks and waterproofed, which we will then use for construction. Each block is tinted red so that it is instantly recognisable in case of future development and can remain on-site and intact for re-use.

“Every piece of single-use material that is not recycled is exponentially adding to the problem of global warming that we are all facing today,” says Hamilton. “Here in the Maldives we are 1,600 km from the nearest landfill, and it is so sad to quantify that a large proportion of single-use packaging that is brought here has no tangible end-of-life or re-use.”

Hamilton has made it his life’s work to explore and protect the world’s waters through artistic interventions. He has created explorative bodies of work around the world, using the signature of water at the core of his practice. During the development of Makers’ Place, the artist made a very generous donation of 20 illuminated PhotoGrams from his Visions from the Shoreline series, which contributed towards funding the studio and the Soneva Namoona initiative. As a tribute to Hamilton, these one-of-a-kind studio proofs are now displayed around the studio that they inspired and helped to fund.

Sustainability runs through the heart of Soneva Fushi and we recycle or re-use 90% of our waste at the resort. Click here to find out more about our environmental and social sustainability efforts across our resorts. Regeneration is a major focal point in our approach to sustainability and you can discover more in our Sustainability Reports and Total Impact Assessment.

As well as the Makers’ Place and Soneva Art & Glass, the Maldives’ first hot glass studio, Soneva Fushi offers a range of inspiring experiences to delight guests of all ages – from Snorkelling with Manta Rays to glamping on a private sandbank. Click here to browse our full selection of experiences.

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