Shanghai is home to some of the tallest buildings on Earth. From the Oriental Pearl to the megatall Shanghai Tower, the city is renowned for taking architecture to extreme heights. But just 30 kilometres from the skyline, a
truly ground-breaking project is nearing completion. Extending 90 metres down into an abandoned
quarry the 18 storey InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland is a structure like no other. Located in the Sheshan Mountain Range, the
hotel was conceived by Atkins for the Shimao Group as a unique destination to rival the
extravagant resorts of Singapore and Dubai. The 18 storey structure extends 16 storeys
into the disused quarry, hugging the cliff walls and merging with the landscape. While the hotel’s two uppermost floors peer
above the top of the pit, its two lowest levels are submerged into a 10 metre deep aquarium
– creating a unique experience for guests. When selecting a site for resort, developers
sought to minimise its impact on the surrounding environment. The abandoned quarry offered
unique topography and the chance to construct a sizeable hotel without scarring the landscape. Determination to limit the resort’s impact continued into the scheme design of the hotel building itself. The structure features a
full-height glass atrium conceived as a waterfall and green roof that helps it to blend with
the landscape above. The hotel’s positioning in the cliff walls
helps it to employ the principles of earth sheltering – drawing on the mass surrounding
rock to help regulate its internal temperature. In addition, the resort is partially powered
by renewable technologies including geothermal energy and photovoltaics. The scheme’s unique design presented extreme
construction complexities. From its initial conception back in 2006, more than 5,000 architects, engineers, designers and construction workers have collaborated to make the resort a reality. Though there were numerous challenges, the
“fight against gravity” – as the project’s chief engineer described it – was by far the
most daunting. To move materials and equipment down into
the quarry, the project team had to overcome logistical headaches not encountered on more
conventional construction sites. One particular challenge was with transporting
concrete from the surface down to where it was needed within the quarry. By altering the ratio of materials used in
the concrete mix, and by adding dampers to slow its descent, concrete was able to be
pumped over a distance of 77 metres without separating into its constituent parts. Over the course of a decade of construction
works experts developed a range of technological solutions to overcome the scheme’s unique
challenges and filed some 39 patents to protect them. Once completed, each of the resort’s 337
luxury rooms – aside from those underwater – will offer panoramic views of the purpose-built
waterfalls flowing down the cliffs. Alongside the usual five star amenities, guests
will also be able to try their hand at rock climbing and bungee jumping, courtesy of the
hotel’s positioning. With its unique form, this resort looks set
to join the growing list of extraordinary projects conceived and constructed across
China – undoubtedly luring travellers from around the world. If you enjoyed this video and would like to
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