As you might know, one of the greenest ways of building is not building at all: that is, taking advantage of existing structures and modernizing them for new uses (not going the demolition way). Apart from saving tons of resources, this can have a special meaning when the building you're saving is iconic to a neighborhood.
This is what happened with the Cruz de Malta yerba mate factory in Buenos Aires, a endeared building that was falling apart and was completely brought back to life by BerdichevskyCherny architects into an offices venue. Apart from recovering the place, the architects incorporated features like natural lightning and ventilation and open spaces that can be adapted for almost any use. See many pics and explanation in the extended.From the architects' website:
"In a respectful intervention that considers what's existent and the new uses, the project highlights the special patrimony and values of the building. We created an open and flexible space for it to be easily adaptable to any office use, this indetermination in spaces creates an interesting identity and a dialogue between old and new."
According to the studio, the intervention was the minimal possible. The building was completely rescued and the work was concentrated in adding one more floor, two mezzanines, circulation facilities, and two inner patios to provide the complex with natural lightning and ventilation (stairs and elevators were located around the patios).
The floor plan with the two patios.
One of the modular capacities of the floors is that the metal stairs can be moved to different parts of the mezzanines, according to the offices' needs. The offices also have raised floor to make it easy to dissemble as renters' needs change.
One of the mezzanines.
Berdichevsky and Cherny studio is run by architects Carlos Berdichevsky and Ruben Cherny. The now called "Cruz de Malta - HSBC" building is located in Barracas neighborhood in Buenos Aires (address is 490 Martín Garcia Avenue).
More pics below and more info on the project at the studio's website (in Spanish).
Another view of the ground floor.
The patios lightning.
A general view of one of the restored floors.
More on restored buildings:
Caixa Madrid and its vertical garden by Herzog & De Meuron
The Aleph Building in Buenos Aires by Foster + Partners