First built in the 1980s, the China Resources Building (CRB) became an icon of the Hong Kong Island waterfront in the late 20th century. The incredible growth and development of Hong Kong that ensued in the following years meant that by the early 2000s, the building’s owners needed to capitalise on their success and advance their corporate priorities. A move from North Wan Chai was considered.
However, demolishing this contemporary icon would have meant a huge amount of construction wastes and significant disruption to the tenants’ operations. Instead, RLP took on this challenging and somewhat risky project to show that a green renovation of an existing office building could be both technically feasible and cost effective. The refurbishment has been a huge success – not only did we preserve an architectural icon for the city, we upgraded the building to 21st century sustainable design standards and helped the owners’ develop a new corporate identity at the same time.
To ensure that the building retained a strong, instantly recognisable identity, we completely restructured the building’s skin. Through simple, neat vertical features arranged in a rhythmic pattern, we unified the tower and the podium. We also integrated energy-saving and environmentally-friendly LED lighting which enhances the building’s presence at night.
We turned the enclosed Chinese garden on the ground floor into landscaped courtyards for the enjoyment of the building users and the public, turning it into a welcoming and well-lit outdoor space for the communities. We removed and restructured the building mass at the podium floors and these have significantly enhanced the neighbourhood’s micro-climate in terms of natural ventilation, lighting and building permeability. Public walkways which used to be covered by concrete were transformed into weather-protected passages with glazed canopies and wind screens – creating a more people-friendly environment. Parts of these walkways were also integrated with the podium lobbies for greater pedestrian convenience.
The refurbished CRB is extremely green. It was the first pre-certified renovation project to achieve a LEED Core & Shell Gold Rating in Hong Kong, with both the design and construction processes contributing to this rating.
The tower’s original white mosaic tile skin was covered with a new curtain wall to reduce solar heat gain. This, in combination with better windows mean only 5% of solar energy is transmitted to the interior, leading to a reduced cooling load and improved energy efficiency. The materials for the new curtain wall were also regionally manufactured, minimising the transportation-related carbon footprint. A full 95% of the existing structural walls, floors and roofs were reused, further lowering the project’s carbon footprint and extending the lifecycle of the building stock.
Along with Hong Kong, the CRB has evolved: in addition to being an architectural icon, it is also a green icon for the city.