Sydney Quarter Quay Tower; Sydney Quarter Quay Tower;

Quay Quarter Tower, Sydney

Quay Quarter Tower’s sustainable building design saves embodied carbon

Quay Quarter Tower is a landmark building in Sydney’s Circular Quay offering new work, retail and social experiences. 

We have been working in partnership with AMP Capital on this project since 2011 on all stages, from planning, feasibility and architect selection, through to the design of the development and then construction and completion. 

While the tower’s excellence is evident to the naked eye, many hidden engineering gems are inside and outside the building, setting a new standard for sustainable building design. Our adaptive, circular retrofit design retained 65 per cent of the original building’s existing floorplates and structure and 98 per cent of the original structural walls and core. This equates to a saving of approximately 12,000 tonnes of embodied carbon.

Originally built as the AMP Centre in the 1970s, AMP Capital had a vision to transform the traditional office space to be the centrepiece of a thriving cultural precinct integrating with the nearby Quay Quarter Lanes, heritage buildings and a bustling foreshore. 

Working closely with Danish architect 3XN, it is the first major project designed by a Danish architect in Sydney since Jørn Utzon collaborated with Ove Arup on the Opera House in 1973.

 

Project Summary


12,000tonnes of embodied carbon saved

120sq mof floor space saved

98%of the buildings original structure retained

What is the secret to innovative design? Robert Saidman shares some of the innovations that made Quay Quarter Tower possible.
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Circular design promotes material reuse

Where others may have opted for demolition, we wanted to avoid all the waste and new embodied carbon involved in starting again from scratch. Instead, we opted for circular design principles, aiming to reuse as much of the structure as we could.

Our circular design approach informed our design choices for the building’s double deck lift design helping retain 65 per cent of the original building’s existing floorplates and structure and 98 per cent of the original structural walls and core. This equates to a saving of approximately 12,000 tonnes of embodied carbon, equivalent to nearly 70,000 flights from Sydney to Melbourne.

World-first: double-deck lifts retrofitted into a commercial tower

Comprehensive reuse of the structure and retaining embodied carbon was an important focus for this project and to achieve AMP Capital’s design vision.

Straying away from traditional lift design, we designed a double deck lift system with two lifts locked together, allowing passengers on two consecutive floors to use the elevator simultaneously. This approach saved nine lift shafts compared to a traditional system, representing approximately 120 square meters of space saved per floor and improved floorplate amenity with larger contiguous spaces. It is the world’s first example of double-deck lifts retrofitted into a premium-grade commercial tower.

Integration of building services with comprehensive reuse of existing riser shafts was also a key focus. The selection of hydronic-based mechanical systems reduced ductwork and plant sizes. Complex fire engineering solutions and careful coordination of on-floor and centralised plant services with structures and architecture, facilitated an almost doubling of the building net lettable area while adding only 30 per cent more area to the building’s core. All of this was achieved while significantly intensifying the demands on the building to allow greater population density, more outside air and premium grade servicing.

Façade design lowers energy use

Quay Quarter Tower’s unique façade design shades the building offering optimised solar protection. The design includes high-performance glazing and sunshades that reduce heat and glare, improving occupants’ thermal comfort whilst lowering air conditioning energy consumption.  

By modelling the annual radiation and using thermal modelling, our team informed the exact angle and shape of the sunshades on the building façade to maximise daylight and occupant comfort. The shading folds and tapers following the sun as it moves from east to west. 

This design compliments the open plan fit out, filling the diverse spaces with natural light, keeping internal blinds open and maximising the magnificent 360-degree views of Sydney Harbour. 


Smart building technology increases energy efficiency

Our team guided AMP Capital through a digital strategy for the tower and the surrounding precinct, which uses a digital integration platform to offer new amenities and comfort for tenants. 

The precinct adopts a smart building technology stack centred on data acquisition which contextualises information for AMP Capital to manage the building efficiently. The tower’s HVAC system delivers fresh, clean air to occupants in an energy-efficient manner.

Frictionless access is a vital part of this strategy offering tenants and visitors digital wayfinding displays, a workplace app with the latest information, booking capabilities and a digital access pass to enable a convenient and hygienic experience.

View inside Quay Quarter Tower, a sustainable building with retrofit design, at Circular Quay, Sydney. Man walks towards escalators in mulit-storey lobby. View inside Quay Quarter Tower, a sustainable building with retrofit design, at Circular Quay, Sydney. Man walks towards escalators in mulit-storey lobby.
Smart building technology at Quay Quarter Tower ©Adam Mork

Quay Quarter Tower recognised for sustainability

Quay Quarter Tower has significant sustainability credentials, including a Green Building Council of Australia 6 Star Green Star Office Design v3 accreditation for its novel environmental features which optimise the existing building's embodied energy and resources. 

The design also boasts a 5.5 Star NABERS Office Base Building Energy Rating, a 4 Star NABERS Office Base Building Water Rating, and WELL Platinum certification. 

The project is a significant step in the right direction for meeting climate emergency requirements, emissions reductions, and social and community expectations, whilst being an exemplar for other urban renewal projects in the future. 

Images ©Adam Mork


Circular Quay is Sydney’s gateway, but it has lacked relevance in recent years – Quay Quarter Sydney is a precinct worthy of a place alongside the world’s most famous harbour. ”

Robert Saidman Robert Saidman Principal