Sydney inaugurates its first vertical village in the new Quay Quarter Tower

The Australian city modifies its skyline by renovating one of its most beloved skyscrapers and transforming it into a spectacular example of practical ecology.

The Australian city modifies its skyline by renovating one of its most beloved skyscrapers and transforming it into a spectacular example of practical ecology.

Renovations make it possible to take advantage of the best of many buildings, contributing to the generation of new spaces, or to the modernization of current ones, by refurbishing the existing ones. These examples are seen in almost all cities, in which buildings with some degree of protection are modified, leaving part of their structure at the service of the new performance. Rarely, this is executed in high-rise buildings.

But rarely does it never mean never, and in Sydney they have just completed the adaptive rehabilitation of one of the most iconic buildings in the populous Australian city: the Quay Quarter Tower. Located at 50 Bridge Street, on the first line of the city skyline, it was built in 1976 to house 45 floors of offices and is owned by AMP Capital.

quay quarter tower
From its sky terraces you can enjoy the Sydney Opera House

The legendary Quay Quarter Tower

The company hired a team of world-renowned architects, called 3XN Architects, to design the tower’s renovation. Thus, although we do not know to what extent the company intended to take advantage of the old tower, it is already known that these crazy ideas usually come from professionals in the field, whose daring actions are always a double-edged sword. In this case, I think it was right.

The genius of this renovation is not the new configuration of the building, which has gone from being a monolithic linear element to becoming a «vertical village.» This is made up of five volumes with different positions on the axis of the tower and with different shapes; which make the viewer see different towers depending on their point of view, in addition, this creates different interior variables of great value.

quay quarter tower
The tower houses residential, commercial and leisure areas

A much taller building

The most incredible thing about this work has been the use of a very important part of the property. In numbers, the building originally built in 1976 has gone from being 45 stories high to 54. Its height of 188 meters in the past has reached the current 216; and its surface area has almost doubled, going from 45,000 square meters to almost the current 90,000.

But there is more. The building has preserved 65% of the original structure, that is, the columns, beams and concrete slabs of the past are still in operation and 96% of the core of the tower remains, too.

quay quarter tower
The spiral staircase, one of the structures that have taken advantage of the original building

A more sustainable building

According to the architects, working on this has meant a huge saving of time and money, but, above all, it has made the construction drastically reduce its carbon footprint.

In other words, they have saved between six months and a year of work, and around 6.1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. This could be compared to two years of emissions from the building or, as Arup engineers (who also collaborated closely on this project) tell us, 35,000 air journeys between Sydney and Melbourne have been saved, with all the pollution that would entail.

quay quarter tower
The tower has gone from having 45 to 54 floors

A great rehabilitation on par with other great ones in Sydney

The company has compared this performance to the Sydney Opera House, designed by Jørn Utzon and Ove Arup in 1973. In fact, it has been said that it is the first major architectural work designed by a Dane on Australian soil since that.

The other architecture studio involved, BVN Architecture, explains to us that 40 elevators have been installed in 22 shafts; that the stairs in the individual blocks are seen as spiral; and that some floors are “removable” allowing tenants the possibility of changing spaces.

quay quarter paneles
Its exterior is covered by 5,000 glass panels.

Sydney’s Quay Quarter Tower numbers

However, we must have a special point and aside for the main contractor of the work, without which this new Australian and world milestone could not have been executed, as they themselves tell us. Multiplex, that is the name of the company, tells us on its website that the contract signed was 900 million Australian dollars, about 600 euros. A significant amount that, using crude numbers, would come out to 6,700 euros per square meter built.

In fact, the tower is only one part of the urban plan, made up of the office building, several residential buildings, and a dynamic commercial area, all of which make up Quay Quarter Sydney, Sydney’s new living space.

On its website we have discovered two interesting things, the first is that the spiral staircases were built during construction, introducing them with tower cranes. The other one is that on the façade there is nothing more and nothing less than 5,000 glass panels, each one weighing approximately 1,300 kilos.

The podium garden is simply spectacular

A success of execution and sale

The success of the tower has meant that few floors remain available, and companies like AMP (of course), Deloitte, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, JPW and EQT already have their space there. And it must be worth enjoying the best views of the Sydney Opera House in one of its Sky Terraces. In other words, green terraces where you can rest from hard office work while filling your eyes with incredible views.

To finish off our long teeth, the tower stands on a podium that houses supermarkets, gyms, restaurants and conference rooms. In addition, another large terrace on its roof, with an exceptional garden full of selected vegetation, leisure spaces and a sculpture for the public to enjoy, in addition to having a space for events and a yoga studio. It’s called Podium Garden, and it already has all my respect.

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