An outdoor furniture collection for public spaces made from recycled construction waste
The project’s name, SORĠI, is derived from the Maltese verb ‘Sorga’, which means an anchoring ship or a tired person in the act of sitting; curiously, the term was borrowed from the Italian verb that means the exact opposite, to arise. In this context, SORĠI is intended as an invitation to sit down, literally, and observe the ever-changing Maltese built landscape from a different perspective.
SORĠI is an ongoing research project about opportunities for circularity in Malta, whose first outcome is an outdoor furniture collection for public spaces, highly critical of the booming construction industry. Six benches inspired by six buildings affected by the local construction frenzy will stand both as a memento of today’s choices and a suggestion for tomorrow’s actions. All pieces are made of recycled construction waste, mainly limestone, encouraging people to question the island’s developments and their impact on the environment, from a social and historical perspective too.
Several materials were considered and tested, including fragments of glass, recycled concrete and marble offcuts: all valuable resources currently being dumped in landfill sites at already at their total capacity. Local suppliers of marble and glass offered their offcuts, while several individuals proposed construction waste from their private projects. Limestone was eventually chosen for several pieces because of its large availability, as most of the demolished structures are made of this local stone and its structural and aesthetic qualities. The choice of materials was also significantly informed by the buildings inspiring the collection. The prototyping and production phases involved collaborations with local craftsmen and focused on utilising traditional production methods and local resources of natural origins whenever possible – natural pigments, for example, were tested as a way to add colour and to create extraordinary textures enhancing the ‘uniqueness’ of each bench.
Every piece tells the story of the building that inspired it and, through an interactive label, invites the user to delve into an online database of information about Maltese architectures that were (or will be) swept away by the construction frenzy: Ta’ Rita (Ghar Lapsi), Roxy Cinema (Birkirkara), Sun City Palais (Marsaskala), Marsa seafront, Twin 19th Century houses (Spinola Bay), Dolores (Zejtun).
With structurally simple solutions and site-specific designs, SORĠI turns construction waste into interactive outdoor furniture for Maltese public spaces, providing practical solutions for the alternative use of the sheer amount of discarded materials that keeps accumulating on the island while promoting circularity and raising awareness on environmental issues within a larger audience.
SORĠI is one of the three start-ups that has been selected to participate in the Circular by Design Challenge in Luxembourg! They are taking part in a coaching program to develop the business further with designs created explicitly for Luxembourg City’s public spaces (& homes). They are halfway through the sustainable coaching program, conducted research with all players of the construction industry there, visited Luxembourg and planned the implementation of the project.
ECO Solidarity will be presented at WantedDesign Manhattan 2022 exhibition at Javits Center in New York, May 15-17, 2022, as part of NYCxDESIGN (New York Design Festival). The continuation of ECO Solidarity at CLOSEUP 2021, a two-day trade event presented by the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) and WantedDesign Manhattan, will be a physical exhibition where we introduce SORĠI.
There are some exciting plans with different entities and developers for new pieces for Malta’s public spaces and developments in the hospitality industry.