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.

Images courtesy of Atkins

View gallery - 3 images