Upcycling has become a global mindful trend as individuals and organisations increasingly embrace the concept of transforming waste into useful, beautiful, and valuable items. Here are some innovations from the past couple of years from around the world.
UPCYCLED SKYSCRAPER - AUSTRALIA
The Quay Quarter Tower in Sydney, previously known as the AMP Centre from the 1970s, has had a dramatic transformation into the world's largest upcycled high-rise building. In 2022, the resulting construction, reached an impressive 676 feet, had evolved into a 49-story skyscraper, and earned the title of "World Building of the Year 2022."
More than two-thirds of the original structure was preserved in the new design, saving 95% of the building's core. This significant feat of upcycling was the brainchild of the Danish architectural firm 3XN, who labeled this endeavour a "once-in-a-generation project."
According to 3XN, the Quay Quarter Tower resulted in an embodied carbon saving of 12,000 tonnes - an equivalent to offsetting 35,000 flights between Sydney and Melbourne. This massive conservation highlights the potential of upcycling in reducing carbon footprints on a grand scale.
As the world's largest upcycled high-rise, the Quay Quarter Tower sets a global benchmark for the transformative power of upcycling in creating sustainable urban landscapes.
LEATHER INNOVATION - UK
A game-changer in the fashion industry, green designer Elvis & Kresse upcycles discarded fire-hose leather into chic accessories. Their line ranges from wallets to travel bags, exhibiting both sustainable fashion and circular economy principles.
Elvis & Kresse have been reclaiming 'heroic materials,' beginning with decommissioned fire hoses from the London Fire Brigade. Originally destined for landfill after their firefighting duties, these hoses have found a second life through the brand. Motivated by a commitment to reduce landfill waste, they persistently rescue and repurpose various materials.
Besides fire hoses, they are exploring parachute silk with barely detectable flaws. While unfit for parachutes, this fabric is perfect for lining their bags and wallets. Other resources include unwanted shoeboxes and auction banners, potentially convertible into bags and wallets. Each material signifies their commitment to sustainability and resourcefulness.
(Image credit: Elvis & Kresse)
AIRCRAFT REIMAGINED - IRELAND
Aeropod, an innovative upcycling initiative from Northern Ireland, breathes new life into retired aircraft by transforming them into unique, bespoke living pods. Co-founded by Kevin Regan and Shane Thornton, this project has led to the creation of personalised home offices, extensions, bars, and cafes out of defunct airplanes.
Initially conceived as a personal project during the pandemic, Aeropods gained popularity when pictures of Regan's transformed cabin went viral, turning the venture into commercial success.
These low-maintenance pods showcase the benefits of upcycling, combining durability, insulation, and modern comfort. The pods aviation origins lend water-resistant characteristics, and the interiors boast of complete insulation in the walls and floors. The pods are equipped with USB sockets, LED lighting, and heaters, making them a cozy and sustainable living option.
Aeropods exemplify how creative upcycling can turn discarded materials into functional, environmentally friendly spaces, while also spawning successful entrepreneurial ventures.
Upcycling is an innovative and crucial process that transforms waste into value, fueling sustainable innovation. The realm of upcycling holds boundless potential, opening endless possibilities for creativity, conservation, and functional design.