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Construction on five-star waterfall hotel commences in abandoned Shanghai quarry


April 24, 2012

Construction is already underway on the Shimao Intercontinental Hotel in the Songjiang District of Shanghai - a five-star, 19-story, 380-room, luxury hotel built into an abandoned, part-flooded quarry (Image: Atkins)

Construction is already underway on the Shimao Intercontinental Hotel in the Songjiang District of Shanghai - a five-star, 19-story, 380-room, luxury hotel built into an abandoned, part-flooded quarry (Image: Atkins)

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Though at this point only computer-rendered images area available for this audacious project, don't be mistaken. This is no mere concept. In fact, construction is already underway on the Shimao Intercontinental Hotel in the Songjiang District of Shanghai - a five-star, 19-story, 380-room, luxury hotel built into an abandoned, part-flooded quarry.

Multi-discipline engineering and design consultancy, Atkins, wearing architectural, structural and civil engineering hats through the project's design and construction, told us that the hotel is part of a large resort catering to adrenaline-fixated extreme sportists - those fatter of pocket, at least.

And the conceptual images suggest the hotel could prove more than sufficiently grandiose for its clientele. The hotel's facade hugs the quarry face, s-ing from convex to concave form. A separate outbuilding (the entrance lobby) resembles a flying saucer descending into the quarry.

Rather than drain what water there is in the quarry, it appears that the idea instead is to add to it, filling it to become a sunken artificial lake. Two of the hotels floors housing guest rooms and a restaurant are to be situated underwater. The pièce de résistance is surely the waterfall which will plunge down in front of the hotel's facade and into the quarry - at least according to the concept. One always wonders whether the more grandstanding elements of the design will survive the dread process of value engineering.

Atkins pointed out some ostensibly environmentally-friendly aspects to the design. The design includes "green roofing and exploiting the site’s geothermal heat to generate electricity and heating. A naturally-lit internal atrium incorporates the existing rock face, with its waterfalls and green vegetation." The inclusion of on-site generation of heat and electricity is welcome, though unless numbers are put against those contributions it's impossible to assess just how valuable that contribution will be.

Shanghaiist reports that the Shanghai Shimao Property Group has so far invested US$555 million into the entire resort, and hotel rooms are expected to start at $320 per night.

Sources: Atkins, Shanghaiist

Images courtesy of Atkins

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

I think if it looks like the concept, it would be one of the most beautiful hotels in the world. I think the lake is a definite plus. I doubt I would ever be able to afford it or even the price of the flight there but it sill would be really cool to stay there a couple of days.



Hard to see how emergency services could easily and quickly get to say, a serious fire on the lower floors...

Keith Reeder

Wow! This is really a great idea! When i first saw the pic, i thought what a bunch of idiots to build a hotel on the outside of a dam wall. That would be a security no-no as terror risks are too high. But Putting the hotel on the side of a used quarry is wonderful!! All that granite would help stabilise the temperature of the building (If in a tropical country like mine, Malaysia, it would help keep the building really cool)) and might help with the energy bills.

The concept can also be used for eco-torism of abandoned quarries, etc. The rooms next to the quarry wall can actually use the bare wall, or have water running down the wall....so many possibilities.

Great idea! Two thumbs up!!!

Nantha Nithiahnanthan

re; Keith Reeder

If the place is being built to modern standards there will not be a major fire because the sprinkler systems will have put it out; the twin towers came down because the port authority did not have to obey New York City fire code. Also engineering in emergency vehicle access would not present a structural problem either.


So a bomb goes off in the foyer, carnage ensues, and you need rescuing from the rubble: we're looking at the same pictures, how do the many rescue and emergency vehicles that would be needed to mount such an exercise get down the quarry sides to ground floor level (or below)?

I've no doubt they WILL build in vehicular access, but the fact remains that it's notable by its absence in the pictures, and getting a rapid and effective response to the bottom of a sheer-sided 100 metre deep quarry is going to be logistically problematic, to say the least.

Keith Reeder

Interesting concept, if they can manage to make a quarry look enticing then I applaud. Not sure that the sailing boats on the photos will be much use though!

Would be a great hotel for rock climbers, you could sit and have lunch watching others climbing the rocks - great venue for climbing competitions.


This building is only 19 stories tall and going up is much more energy intensive than going down. Besides there is plenty of room to get helicopters to the lake level.

I wonder if they will build blowers to provide wind for the sailboats? Actually the wind blowing over the top probably would generate winds at lake level.


Terrorists are not all powerful bogeymen, its the media that need something to demonise to keep you under control. Live in fear and you will get nothing done. God forbid them, if they do decide to blow it up then build it bigger build it better employ more people BUT you gotta build it first. So kudos im definitely spending some time there!


My comments are ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with terrorism per se (I'm from the UK; we had the IRA for thirty years before the current "bogeymen" came on the scene, and it's not part of our collective mindset to run so scared of terrorism that we feel the need for an equivalent to the US Bureau Of Counterterrorism, thanks) - I merely used the bomb reference to make a point.

And it still stands: on the face of it, there could be real problems in quickly getting help down that hole to where it's needed in an emergency.

Keith Reeder

I have two comments on the comments:

1) Emergencies: What with millions of years scrambling up trees to safety the natural exodus is in exactly the right direction for half the floors.

2) bombs, terrorists? what world do you live in? you are thousands of times more likely to be murdered by a family member, or killed in a car crash on the way to the hotel (or die of a heart attack under your secretary) than ever be unfortunate enough to be mixed up with a terrorist bombing.

And if you are worried about terrorists: to reduce the risk, don't let your government train and arm "freedom fighters" in other countries (I'm thinking Taliban here, but Pinochet and others might be worth remembering), or allow corporate powers to invade other contries (that will Nigeria or Congo, for US and EU examples).

Robbie Price

Hmmm, no sweeping vistas though! And what about sunlight? You will only get sunlight at the bottom on the water for a few hours each day...After that, the angle of the sun will plunge everything in darkness!


Oh! come on, that is just sexy.

Mickens Renaudin

Oh! come on, that is just sexy.

Mickens Renaudin

anyone else think that looks like the same place as where the ships were on the movie "2012"?

Robert Messino

There are some inaccuracies here. I know I am the concept designer and design director of this project. 1 Waterfall - this isin fact glass lift atrium in the shape of waterfall. There will be one natural waterfall facing the hotel on the opposite side of the quarry 2 Atkins have only designed the Architectural concept. Construction information,Structure/M&E and all other engineering is by Shanghai Local Design Institute - ECADI. 3 'The flying saucer' restaurnt has been replaced by more conventional teahouse with green roof in the latest design as there is no more call for 'extreme sports' and bungee jumping. 4 There is no longer a naturally lit internal atrium. 5 Whilst the building has considerable passive sustainable features, such as green roof, sustainable drainage and water recirculation, there are no plans at the moment to include any renewable energy features such as geothermal heat extraction. This was original intention, but as with most sustainability features that cost money, client has not included this. Of course the microclimate created by the quarry environment will help to cool the building in the summer. 6 The entire resort comprises residential development and a theme park with another hotel in addition to this hotel to be run by Intercontinental Group. Thanks for interesting comments.

Martin Jochman
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