“Change is the only constant.” That maxim, attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, still holds true two thousand years on. And it holds particularly true for cities, which for centuries have been shaped and reshaped by different forces – some natural, some cultural, some economical.
In recent years, it’s a surge in non-office-based working, coupled with rising energy costs and higher interest rates, that has contributed to reshaping the contours of our cities.
As a result, many buildings (particularly high-rise structures) have been left underutilized, when not standing completely empty. Although aggregated data on this phenomenon is hard to come by, the number of urban buildings sitting empty is said to be on the rise in many cities across the globe.
Faced with this issue, building owners usually resort, for lack of better options, to demolition – a slow, expensive, and unsustainable process.
Fortunately, there’s a more efficient and environmentally viable alternative to the “build-tear down-rebuild” approach that has prevailed to this day: it’s called repurposing – also known as retrofitting. And as it turns out, we’ve developed a system – Schindler MetaCore – that allows building owners to do just that.
Flexibility drives sustainability
Adaptability is key to a building’s longevity, and it’s exactly what Schindler MetaCore delivers.
“What Schindler MetaCore allows us to do is quite remarkable – it makes concrete structures flexible,” says Dr Florian Troesch, our Head of Transit Management and Digital Ecosystem. “Multi-purpose buildings are not a new concept, but Schindler MetaCore takes the idea to a whole new level. Now each floor can be multi-purpose and catered for by a bespoke elevator service.”
The system has tangible sustainability benefits. By allowing the building’s features and functionality to be easily reconfigured to meet changing requirements, our system enables buildings to be repurposed rather than replaced.
In effect, this means we can dramatically extend a building’s lifespan – which in and of itself is great for the environment. While figures may vary per country and building type, we know for sure that the process of tearing down and rebuilding has a much larger carbon footprint than that of repurposing.
Buildings with flexibility at their core
The guiding principle lying at the heart of Schindler MetaCore is that you only need to repurpose or build once. Then you can reconfigure at will – and as often as needed. The system enables one elevator group to serve multiple applications – such as residential, office or hospitality – while delivering a bespoke transport experience for each passenger group.
This goes way beyond transforming monofunctional structures into mixed-use buildings, where individual floors are allocated to individual applications. Schindler MetaCore enables multiple applications per floor, allowing buildings owners to use their space to its maximum potential, while allowing seamless transitions between user groups. Think of it as mixed-used buildings on steroids.
When a passenger enters a building, our system automatically detects his/her profile before sending the appropriate elevator cabin to the corresponding building lobby. This marks the start of a personalized user journey: While commercial visitors might be greeted with a bright professional in-car interior appropriate to an office setting, residents stepping into the same elevator from their own lobby would receive a warmer welcome.
If, over time, requirements for the building change, we can easily repurpose without needing any adjustment to the physical infrastructure. The mix and range of building applications and passenger groups can be updated repeatedly, all virtually in real time. Meaning, if, for example, office space is to become residential space (and/or a combination of residential and hotel space) the elevator system and lobbies will be ready and waiting.
If repurposing sounds like a big step into the unknown for building owners, it isn’t. We can simulate for them all the different configurations possible to help them visualize the outcome.
A flexible future
Our Schindler MetaCore technology delivers significant and tangible benefits for building owners, developers, occupants, and the planet. Architects, too, get the tools they need to design future-proof structures that aren’t anchored to their original applications.
As such, Schindler MetaCore is an enabler of the sustainable, fit-for-purpose urban environments of the future. By ensuring buildings have adaptability baked into their DNA, lifetime sustainability isn’t a pipedream anymore – it’s a reality.