The preservation of unfinished buildings or structures requires judicious strategies to avoid their demolition. Hasty methods to end a building’s life cycle have negative effects on the environment, damage the resources used and compromise the opportunity for recycling. In this article, we explore some examples that highlight the potential of existing structures.

“The most sustainable building is the one that is already built” – Carl Elefante

The construction industry is responsible for a substantial portion of annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Surprisingly, half of these emissions are associated with the life cycle of buildings, from the construction phase to their subsequent demolition. In this context, it is important to rethink our practices regarding the demolition of buildings. The preservation of a building or structure requires a careful assessment, sometimes involving a multidisciplinary team.


Riverside – Santa Comba Dão, Portugal

In the Riverside Project, the MJARC team carried out a thorough assessment, taking advantage of the existing structure, giving it a new design that guarantees the integration of renewable energies as well as the insulation needed to guarantee the building’s energy efficiency.

Projeto Riverside – Santa Comba Dão


Quay Quarter Tower (QQT) – Sydney, Australia

An international example of building renovation is the 89,000 m² Quay Quarter Tower (QQT), which is strategically located next to Sydney’s busy Circular Quay. This tower represents a remarkable renovation of the former AMP Center, which was originally built in 1976 and was coming to the end of its useful life. The design team embraced the challenge of reusing as much of the existing building as possible and establishing a new design for the building to ensure its adaptive reuse.

Source: Archdaily

The approach adopted resulted in the preservation of 65% of the original structure, including beams, columns and slabs, and 95% of the original core. This translates into impressive embodied carbon savings of 7.3 million kilograms (the equivalent of eliminating 35,000 flights between Sydney and Melbourne).


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