Architecture – How do you breathe new life into an old tower? 3XN studio employed a radical sustainability strategy that involved upcycling a former skyscraper to create the 206-meter-high Quay Quarter Tower rising close to the Sydney Opera House.
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Constructed of five stacked shifting volumes, 3XN imagined a series of stacked atria creating a social spine with exceptional views while also allowing daylight deep into each floor. The 49-story Quay Quarter Tower – QQT – is a once-in-a-generation project. Indeed, the high-rise strategically ‘upcycles’ the existing AMP Centre tower, 1976, which was reaching the end of its usable lifespan.
Rather than simply tear it down and start over, the project team set out to reach an ambitious goal: to reuse as much of the existing skyscraper as possible and set a lofty new standard for what is possible for adaptive reuse in architecture.
“QQT retains over 65% of the original structure – beams, columns, and slabs – and 95% of the original core, resulting in an embodied carbon saving of 12,000 tonnes, the equivalent of 35,000 flights between Sydney and Melbourne,” 3XN told Archipanic.
Transformation is a sustainable initiative. The Quay Quarter Tower embraces environmental, social, and urban sustainability. The facade features an external sunshade hood, which blocks 30% of the solar radiance, reducing mechanical loads and eliminating the need for internal blinds for thermal control. On top of that, the skyscraper retains 2/3 of the existing structure to create a brand-new identity and texture, giving it new life and reinvigorating the surrounding precinct.
Arranged as a vertical village, the Quay Quarter Tower also creates a sense of community and provides spaces focusing on collaboration, health, well-being and external terraces. “QQT has an excellent carbon story, and it is an example of anticipatory workspace design produced pre-COVID, which nevertheless has provided healthy and attractive space for post-pandemic users.” Commented Paul Finch, Programme Director of the World Architecture Festival.
All photos: courtesy of 3XN and World Architecture Festival.