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Adaptive Re-Use of Buildings

Ninotschka Titchkosky CO-CEO BVN

ADAPTIVE RE-USE OF BUILDINGS

The growing movement to reduce society’s enormous consumption of ‘single use’ plastics involves a significant shift in mindset for developed countries where the throw away society has been prevalent for decades. This shift in mindset is also changing our attitude to existing building stock. Given the emissions and waste associated with new building construction, we are starting to see real moves away from the ‘single life’ building.

Adaptive re-use of existing buildings is not new, but it is heading in new directions. BVN are currently involved in three major projects which involve the adaptive re-use of very tall CBD towers. Unlike previously, where this exercise might involve a refresh and re-presentation, these new projects use carefully planned and integrated changes to the building form and function. Floorplates are increased, re-shaped and re-orientated, floors are added, the intrinsic function of the building is adapted, not just refreshed.

The Quay Quarter Tower at Circular Quay takes a centre core tower with mid 20th Century lineage and transforms it into a model of 21st Century working and urban reinvigoration. Existing floor plates are extended to provide more flexibility, connectivity and agility as well as allowing for atria and interconnecting stair voids.

The total NLA is increased while maintaining the original building height. The Greenland Apartments project in the Sydney CBD is even more bold, converting an outmoded 27-storey office building into an innovative, complex, multi-use residential project. Its existing steel structure is augmented with 40 new floors carefully grafted on to provide some of the country’s most dramatic and livable apartments.

The design and technical challenges in these projects are significant but also exciting and rewarding. They present a responsible approach to both environmental imperatives and the need for cities to evolve organically. Like moving away from single use plastics, this takes intelligence, planning and commitment, but eventually we will wonder why we weren’t doing it sooner.