• Landmark refurbishment the new sustainable gateway to Wanchai

    24 December 2013

    Snapped up by one tenant – Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. – one of the largest insurance groups in the world – Generali Tower, formerly the Sincere Insurance Building, confirms Swire Properties mandate to incorporating sustainable practices into all facets of its business.

    Generali Tower  3“Swire Properties continually assesses the impact that its activities have on the environment through property development,” states Don Taylor, Office Portfolio Director, Swire Properties. “We closely monitor a number of key areas that include greenhouse gas emissions related to electricity use and building construction, the use of natural resources, including water, waste generation, effluent discharge, the microclimate of the surrounding area, noise, air and light pollution, and indoor air quality.”

    “We aim to comply at all times with environmental regulations and requirements related to our operations and development activities and we encourage all employees, contractors, suppliers and customers to take responsibility for their actions and comply with their environmental obligations.”

    Generali Tower  1“Generali Tower is an excellent example of our continued commitment to sustainable practices. We achieve these objectives by minimising our use of natural resources, reducing or preventing pollution, managing waste effectively and integrating environmental considerations into the planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance of all our facilities and services.”

    Generali Tower

    Occupying one of the most accessible and convenient locations on Hong Kong island, the recently refurbished 19-storey building Generali Tower sits within a short walking distance of Pacific Place shopping mall and the vibrant Star Street dining and entertainment precinct with direct access to Admiralty MTR station.

    And while location is certainly a major draw card for tenants, the additional convenience of also being within close proximity to the cross harbour tunnel and the Island East Corridor to East Kowloon and the New Territories further adds weight to the overall appeal of this prime location.

    From night into day

    Historically presenting a strong visual presence at the entrance to Wanchai district, most notably its ever-changing street level to roof advertising hoarding, the facade of Generali Tower has undergone major refurbishment, most noticeably the transformation of the former concrete wall to a modern, glazed glass facade that promotes the penetration of daylight into office interiors. And while this has also rendered the famous wall on the Queensway side of the building no longer suitable for advertising billboards, it has completely opened up the building to the world outside and allows occupants to absorb surrounding neighbourhood features.

    With refurbishment works, including building exterior, lift lobbies, lifts and dedicated garden terraces on select floors (12/F, 14/F & 16/F) completed in May 2013, the entire office tower, offering a gross floor area of 81,346 square feet, has already been snapped up and will be occupied by one tenant – Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. – one of the largest insurance groups in the world.

    “With continued demand for office space on Hong Kong island, refurbished Generali Tower represents a rare gem in today’s marketplace,” continues Taylor. “The introduction of a new glass façade promoting natural light within the building has also added a new, energy efficient dimension to the building, while also appealing to the now-confirmed tenants who did not want their employees feeling as if they were locked away from the world in some dark, cavernous office space.”Generali Tower  4

    Eco-friendly refurbishment

    Following initial assessment of  the condition and overall structure of Generali Tower, and with due consideration given to its constraints, the premises were revamped in a number of ways in order to upgrade it in accordance with the latest environmental standards. The building complies with the latest Energy Efficient Ordinance put forward by the Government in September 2012 and has also received compliance certificates as issued by an independent energy assessor.

    “The total replacement of the original façade and the extensive installation of glass glazing on the building’s façade have also resulted in a number of environmentally friendly features further adding to the overall appeal of the building,” says Taylor. “Not least was the glass façade that promotes the flow of natural light throughout the interior, thus reducing the constant and inefficient use of old style electric lights. This combined with the installation of eco-friendly lighting not only saves energy and reduces power bills, but most importantly promotes a bright, cheerful and welcoming environment for workers. The installation of central air-conditioning cooling and a new lift system further promotes the sustainability of this extensive refurbishment.”

    However, due to the limited space during the construction stage, the use of existing equipment, such as the old elevator, was the only available means for vertical transportation during the refurbishment project.  As a result, all enhancement works, including structural reinforcement and the modernisation of building services, could only be carried out at a moderate pace in order to ensure strict compliance with both environmental and work safety requirements.

    Combining old and new

    Generali Tower  2The former Sincere Insurance Building was designed according to building regulations observed in the 1960s. Given the challenges and impediments to design that resulted from the existing 50-plus year old structure, Swire Properties decided to retain the original core of the building and not totally rebuild from the ground up, noting that It would be challenging to redevelop the property on this site and to observe current building ordinances without sacrificing the overall efficiency of the space.

    As such, the refurbishment work significantly reduced the amount of construction waste in terms of concrete and debris sent to the landfill, while also guaranteeing that minimal dust and noise were generated throughout the refurbishment period.

    The refurbishment of the newly named Generali Tower once again demonstrates Swire Properties pursuit of design details of the highest standard incorporating sustainable building practices in order to ensure the exceptional quality of work for which its properties are renowned.

     

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