CCC INSIGHTS: Crumbling facades, asbestos and outdated elevators are often cited as reasons to tear down tall buildings and create new skyscrapers. However renovating a tall building is often a better option than demolition and reconstruction, say researchers at the University of Venice, who have examined a wide range of buildings in the US, Canada and Europe.
The decline of tall buildings is more often a consequence of functional obsolescence rather than structural decay.
But depending on the extent, the renovation of tall building can cost 50-90% less than the demolition of the building and construction of a new building of similar size.
In many cases, the restoration of building takes less than half the time required for demolition and new construction. The speed of refurbishment can provide a faster response to market needs, resulting in a more successful investment.
Demolition is a also a very complex task, especially in dense urban environments.
Also, not all materials can be recycled to recover the embodied energy used in their production. Materials such as bricks, tiles, coated class, concrete etc cannot be recycled and only used as infill materials.
The study looked at buildings over 200 meters tall in the US and Canada (188 buildings) and those exceeding 100 meters in Europe (651 buildings).
Demolition is not always the best approach for ageing buildings. Builders, designers and component manufacturers are increasingly exploring available leading to the renovation of more tall buildings instead of demolition.
The research shows that the renovation of tall buildings can lead to a number of advantages. It is cheaper than a complete reconstruction and provides a quicker answer to market needs than demolition.