Quay Quarter Tower (QQT), located close to Sydney Opera House, is a pioneering redevelopment project that redefines what is possible for tall buildings nearing the end of their commercial life. The radical sustainability strategy involved upcycling the existing 1976 AMP Centre, retaining 65% of its beams, columns, and slabs, and over 95% of its existing core, resulting in an embodied carbon saving of over 12,000 metric tons in concrete alone. The design adds approximately 45,000 square-metres of new construction, doubling the floor area and creating a new world-class high-rise office from an outdated and underperforming building with diminishing returns, becoming the most significant adaptive reuse high-rise ever completed.
The design eschews the conventions of a traditional, uniform high-rise and instead is arranged as a vertical village to create a sense of community and provide spaces that focus on collaboration, health, and well-being. The 206-metre, 49-storey tower is comprised of five stacked and shifting volumes, each arranged around an atrium facing the iconic Sydney Harbour to the north. The atria accommodate informal social spaces that activate the workspace, aligning with 3XN’s design philosophy that architecture shapes behaviour and, together, create a ‘social spine’ with exceptional views while also allowing daylight deep into the 2,000-square-metre floorplates. This creates a socially sustainable tower design that focuses on collaboration and well-being, rather than efficiency alone: QQT humanises the high-rise.
QQT demonstrates that demolition need not be the favoured option for creating a world-class development and, crucially, it has proven that retaining existing buildings can not only be financially viable, but preferable, to demolishing and rebuilding. Incredibly, the design allowed the contractor to begin dismantling sections of the old building while simultaneously working on the new construction, reducing construction time by more than 1 year, saving around AU$150m, and generating revenue one year sooner.