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Sydney high-rise wins top international prize

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This low-raze approach to high-rise added more floors. New atriums were designed with flexible floor plans – so floors could be added or removed – to suit the changing needs of clients.

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Author and expert on tall buildings and sustainability Associate Professor Philip Oldfield said Quay Quarter Tower was one of the most important tall buildings this century.

“This is architecture transforming a building that had reached the end of its useful life into something entirely new,” said Oldfield, the head of school at UNSW Built Environment.

There were many examples of buildings that had been refurbished, with improved skin for energy efficiency or to make them more modern, but “what we haven’t seen is something like this”, he said.

“It is a total transformation of the architecture, the floor plate is extended, the building is reimagined, you would not recognise the building today. That is relatively rare. ”

He said there were thousands of mid-century office buildings around the world at risk of being demolished when they could be repurposed, reducing the effect on the climate.

The other finalists

Often they’re being replaced with a slightly bigger, slightly glassier versions, he said.

“People either love them or hate them [modernist office blocks] … But what this generation of buildings have is an environmental importance: They are a previous investment of thousands of tonnes of concrete and thousands of tonnes of steel.”

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Every square metre of new floor space produces an estimated tonne of greenhouse gases, Oldfield said. And new international research showed emissions generated from manufacturing concrete have doubled in the past 20 years.

“So putting aside the cultural and aesthetic heritage, [these buildings] have an environmental heritage, so we have an environmental kind of lever to look after them and, rather than pull them down, think about what they can be.

“We need to build more housing, hospitals, buildings, but every very square metre produces greenhouse gases. So one of the things we can do is renovate before we demolish and rebuild.”

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.



This low-raze approach to high-rise added more floors. New atriums were designed with flexible floor plans – so floors could be added or removed – to suit the changing needs of clients.

Loading

Author and expert on tall buildings and sustainability Associate Professor Philip Oldfield said Quay Quarter Tower was one of the most important tall buildings this century.

“This is architecture transforming a building that had reached the end of its useful life into something entirely new,” said Oldfield, the head of school at UNSW Built Environment.

There were many examples of buildings that had been refurbished, with improved skin for energy efficiency or to make them more modern, but “what we haven’t seen is something like this”, he said.

“It is a total transformation of the architecture, the floor plate is extended, the building is reimagined, you would not recognise the building today. That is relatively rare. ”

He said there were thousands of mid-century office buildings around the world at risk of being demolished when they could be repurposed, reducing the effect on the climate.

The other finalists

Often they’re being replaced with a slightly bigger, slightly glassier versions, he said.

“People either love them or hate them [modernist office blocks] … But what this generation of buildings have is an environmental importance: They are a previous investment of thousands of tonnes of concrete and thousands of tonnes of steel.”

Loading

Every square metre of new floor space produces an estimated tonne of greenhouse gases, Oldfield said. And new international research showed emissions generated from manufacturing concrete have doubled in the past 20 years.

“So putting aside the cultural and aesthetic heritage, [these buildings] have an environmental heritage, so we have an environmental kind of lever to look after them and, rather than pull them down, think about what they can be.

“We need to build more housing, hospitals, buildings, but every very square metre produces greenhouse gases. So one of the things we can do is renovate before we demolish and rebuild.”

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

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