Universal waste management pavilion

| Architectural Engineering

TU Delft | Architectural Engineering

“This course focussed on the waste problem on the Maldives. On the Maldives, every third person dumps their waste informally. But even the regular infrastructure lacks a sustainable system. Small dumps on individual islands cause immense pollution, particularly during reoccurring floods. Some islands are in fact exclusively used as landfill. In consultation with the United Nations, the project was to design a waste separation station with workplace that could be the beginning of a more circular economy.”

The Maldives is an island country located in the Indian Ocean with Sri Lanka and India in the proximity of 700 km away. It is one of the world’s most geographically dispersed countries, as well as the smallest Asian country by both land area and population. The average height is 1.4 meter and the highest point is 2 meter above sea level. Thus, the Maldives is known as the lowest lying country in the world. What is taken for granted in most industrial countries, still appears to be a constant challenge in most places of the world: Waste management. In the Maldives, every third person dumps their waste informally. But even the regular infrastructure lacks a sustainable system. Small dumps on individual islands cause immense pollution, particularly during reoccurring floods. Some islands are in fact exclusively used as landfill. Thilafushi is one of these ‘garbage islands‘ located nearby the capital of Malé, and it is growing continuously. As part of their Development Plan for the Maldives, the United Nations now contrive to initiate a new waste infrastructure to the island state. By introducing lsland Waste Centres, the Maldives will not only be given a new system for waste separation and treatment but a spatial setting to implement it. Moreover, they can become a place of working and learning as to educate the wider population about the benefits of circularity.


Studenten TU Delft pakken afvalprobleem Malediven aan

RealisticSee through

The universal waste management pavilion is built upon a few starting points. The structure is to be built with local and recycled materials, demountable, have a passive system for cooling and smell extraction and be protected against flooding. Temperatures on the Maldives can be high and therefore shadow is a precondition for activities, especially when waste is involved. By adding a PVC-coated polyester membrane over the structure, shadow is provided as is protection against heavy rainfalls.

The pavilion is an example of how the handling of waste needs to be prioritised: Reduce – Reuse – Recycle. On a street, covered from the sun and rain, workshops are located for the reuse of waste. It gives locals the chance to start up a business to encourage a circular economy. Next stop in the street is the recycle area. Four of the five big waste streams (paper, plastic, metal and general waste) are unable to be efficiently recycled on a small scale, therefore they need to be shipped efficiently (so compressed) to a larger regional treatment centre. Green waste is recycled on a local scale, biogas and fertilizer is made within a biodigester.

The core of the waste management facility is the staffs quarter. Although most of the process can be done without the involvement of staff, they can oversee a clean process. The recycle section is wider than the rest of the building, this provides enough working space as well as space to store additional waste bins. There is a clear division between the waste-street and the waste-handling-area, the latter is only accessible for staff.

The design is made as low-tech and passive as possible. The waste handling is done using regular bins and the only machinery within the pavilion is the waste compactor. The islands are remote and therefore spare parts can be difficult to get. Also the cooling and smell extraction is made passive.

The membrane is digitally calculated and modelled using Rhinoceros in combination with a Grasshopper script.

The building materials are carefully chosen. The base is made from recycled plastics, this can serve as an example of the recycling of waste and is durable, even in wet conditions. The floor sits above the ground to be safe from flooding and keep animals away. Local coconut wood makes up the building itself, this reduces emission and costs from transportation. The structure is covered with a white PVC-coated polyester membrane, this protects the building and create a pleasant indoor environment.

The structure is marked by five solar chimneys, these are responsible for the passive cooling of the building and the smell extraction of the waste. The custom made design consist of fins to heat up in the Maldivian sun. The warm air creates an updraft, extracting air from near the waste and in the building. The top of the chimney is designed to increase this effect, the shape enables the venturi effect.

The design is made as a demountable structure. The high point of the membrane is attached to a diagonal pole with a ground anchor as base. A tie rod helps the structure to be in balance, holding the membrane in a ninety degree angle. Cable adjusters are used to set the right amount of tension.

The low points require a different construction. With the help of bolds, the structure is enabled to resist traction, a custom made element enables the attachment of the fabric. Rainwater is collected for use in the lavatories of the pavilion, the centre is therefore self sufficient.

This project is part of Maldives Matter. In collaboration with the United Nations, TU Delft developed an architectural design brief for sixty-four Architectural Engineering Master studio students. Its objective was to address the Maldives’ two major issues of waste management and agriculture using architectural interventions to instigate positive change. To gain greater insight, a group of enthusiastic students teamed up to organise a research trip. We formed a collective under the name Maldives Matter which worked to raise awareness around the aforementioned issues and reach out to interested sponsors and contributors, making on-site exploration possible. With Twenty-eight students and four lecturers we made the trip to the Maldives. By the end of the trip, the first of two goals – to raise awareness – had been achieved. We had collected a bank of resources and analyses on which to draw. The rest of the project is conducted in the Netherlands, this design is part of this.

Student portfolio

A new standard for urban family living

Universal waste management pavilion

Unity Bridge