“Upcycling”, biophilia and mental health care in architecture

Sydney’s tallest building, the AMP Centre, was to be demolished and replaced with a new skyscraper. However, demolishing skyscrapers comes at a significant environmental cost, so it was decided to build a new skyscraper without destroying the old one. The result is the world’s first “upcycled” skyscraper, which has just been named World Building of the Year 2022. The 49-storey Quay Quarter Tower retained more than ⅔ of the old structure, including 95% of the building’s original core. This saved 12,000 tonnes of CO₂ that would have been emitted if the building had been demolished and started from scratch.

The CapitaSpring skyscraper, designed in the spirit of biophilia, has opened in Singapore and is distinguished by the greenery woven into the building’s structure. From the ground floor, a lift leads to the Green Oasis, a spiral path in the garden that winds past exercise equipment, benches and tables as part of a walk through four floors of tropical flora. At ⅓ of the height, a glass and aluminium facade reveals plants and trees growing tens of metres above the ground. On the roof, there is a 418 m² farm where visitors can walk among fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. The 51-storey building covers an area of almost 8400 m² and houses more than 80,000 trees and plants.

How can architecture prevent suicide and help people in mental health crisis? Offering designs that are comfortable and welcoming, where people feel happy and safe. For example, plants in a hospital environment reduce anxiety and lower patients’ blood pressure and heart rate. Access to ventilation and natural light works similarly.

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