By Jody McCutcheon
“Hole-in-the-ground” doesn’t usually connote beauty and luxury, but it’s exactly what the Songjiang Hotel is using to its advantage. Designed by Atkins Architecture, the five-star, 400-bed hotel finds itself in a 100-metre–deep, abandoned quarry on the outskirts of Shanghai, China. Specifically, it’s being built into the quarry wall. The project is not only a model of sustainable development, having revived a part of China ruined by mining, but the hotel also brings plenty of eco-benefits.
The Songjiang Hotel simply must be seen to be believed—at least in images, as it’s not yet complete. An idyllic lake has been carved out of the quarry floor. A waterfall cascades down the middle of the hotel façade into the lake. The building ascends two levels above the quarry rim; even better, it descends two levels under the lake, accommodating guest rooms, a restaurant and a 10-metre deep aquarium. Furthermore, by virtue of being situated down a massive hole, the setting is wonderfully secluded. It all brings to mind the phrase, “lost paradise.”
The Songjiang will be a fully functional hotel, with corporate conference facilities, a banquet hall, restaurants, cafes and the aforementioned aquarium. Sports facilities include a swimming pool, bungee jumping and rock climbing. The latter two activities will exploit the quarry’s depth through an “extreme sports centre” cantilevered from the quarry rim and accessed via lift from lake level.
As for eco-benefits: The recycling of an existing hole is far gentler on the environment than blasting a massive, new hole; the water-filled quarry will offer heat control and added shelter from the elements; greened roofs will reduce, among many other things, heating and cooling costs, carbon dioxide levels and heavy-metal levels in water; finally, the hotel will be sustainably powered using geothermal energy extraction.
Construction began last month and is scheduled for completion by 2015–so plenty of time to brush up on your Mandarin, practice rock climbing and save up for a very interesting eco-holiday.