Architecture

Spectacular "groundscraper" plunges down a disused quarry

Spectacular "groundscraper" pl...
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel consists of two floors above ground and 16 floors below – two of which are underwater 
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel consists of two floors above ground and 16 floors below – two of which are underwater 
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is located in Songjiang , Shanghai, China
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is located in Songjiang , Shanghai, China
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is installed in a man-made quarry
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is installed in a man-made quarry
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel consists of two floors above ground and 16 floors below – two of which are underwater 
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel consists of two floors above ground and 16 floors below – two of which are underwater 
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel includes 337 hotel rooms
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel includes 337 hotel rooms
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel features a glass walkway 
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel features a glass walkway 
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel's entrance
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel's entrance
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is a five star resort and includes amenities like a spa
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is a five star resort and includes amenities like a spa
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel features an underwater restaurant
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel features an underwater restaurant
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is located in Songjiang , Shanghai, China
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is located in Songjiang , Shanghai, China
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is divided by a massive glass "waterfall" that houses the elevator atrium
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is divided by a massive glass "waterfall" that houses the elevator atrium
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel measures 62,171 sq m (around 670,000 sq ft)
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The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel measures 62,171 sq m (around 670,000 sq ft)
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Over a decade in the making, the massively ambitious Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel certainly lives up to its informal "groundscraper" nickname. Hugging the cliff face of an 88 m (288 ft)-deep disused quarry, the building features an eye-catching waterfall-like glass atrium and an underwater section with restaurant and hotel rooms.

The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is located in Songjiang, Shanghai, China, and comprises 337 rooms. It has a total floorspace of 62,171 sq m (around 670,000 sq ft), which is spread over 18 floors: two above ground and 16 below.

However, the two lowest levels are actually under the water line at the bottom of the quarry and host a restaurant and a selection of guest rooms. The restaurant's glazing faces underwater aquariums so that diners will be able to eat while gazing at the fishes, rather like Snøhetta's upcoming Under.

The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel features an underwater restaurant
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel features an underwater restaurant

The building was conceived by Martin Jochman while he was at Atkins, but the architect then founded his own firm, Quarry Associates (QA), as well as a China-registered branch, Jochman Architecture Design Environment ((JADE), to carry on the project. We first saw it back in 2012 as construction began and considerable engineering challenges have been overcome in the meantime, such as the danger of earthquakes and the problem of how to go about building an underwater restaurant down at the bottom of a quarry.

"To construct the substructure, which the underwater rooms and aquariums are part of, the quarry lake was pumped out completely and the mass concrete base placed on the adjusted quarry bottom," Jochman tells New Atlas by email. "Pumping the concrete down 90 m (295 ft) was a problem because of separation of the aggregate through gravity, so new methods for pumping and remixing had to be found. About 60,000 cubic meters (2,118,880 cubic ft) of concrete was used, to create the sub structure and the underwater rooms.

"The steel structure of the main building is embedded into this mass concrete to create a rigid joint at the bottom for seismic reasons (to reduce the effect of the vibration of the structure during an earthquake event). The steel structure is in the form of inverted L shape trusses that are embedded at the bottom and sit on a movement joint on an edge beam on the quarry edge. This beam is deeply anchored into the rock.

"In the event of an earthquake, the upper part of the structure is free to move due to a sliding joint similar to joints used in bridge technology. The steel structure of the building is therefore not fixed to the cliff, but is freestanding with the top supported on the edge beam - quite complex and innovative structure, for which there were no building codes to follow."

The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is divided by a massive glass "waterfall" that houses the elevator atrium
The Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel is divided by a massive glass "waterfall" that houses the elevator atrium

Aside from the main building and the underwater sections, the Shimao Wonderland Intercontinental Hotel also boasts an impressive waterfall-shaped glass atrium housing the elevators, as well as an actual waterfall that's man-made (there was a natural waterfall on the site but it often ran dry).

Additionally, a cantilevered glass walkway is installed and the hotel offers various water-based leisure facilities, plus some kind of outdoor-themed entertainment park, a ballroom, and spa.

According to JADE+QA, the building's low orientation, green roof, and a "unique microclimate caused by the thermal properties of the quarry rock mass and the quarry lake," will help it retain a steady temperature year-round with relatively little energy required. Of course, the project also repurposes a manmade quarry that would otherwise be a blight on the landscape.

Source: JADE+QA

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6 comments
guzmanchinky
Such a cool building. But the idea of an underwater restaurant built to Chinese specifications is a bit unnerving...
Cryptonoetic
Is that a canal right next to the big pit? I have an idea for a great practical joke...
Howe
Cryptonoetic - It looks like it, if so, that is a disaster waiting to happen. Cool looking building though, but I think the cool-ness would fade quickly, and you would be looking out your hotel room window, and instead of seeing an awesome skyline, you would see a rock wall, that's it, just rock.
Nik
I hope they have adequate drainage pumps, for that ''once in a hundred years'' downpour! Otherwise, the underwater restaurant might extend upwards a floor or two.
Grunchy
I would really, really like to fly a drone around this area. That looks just fantastic!
toyhouse
Why did they build it? Because they could! When I go to spend time in a hotel, the last thing on earth, (or down in it), that I want,.... is to stay in a fancy hotel built in an abandoned quarry pit. Gives me claustrophobia just looking at the pics. Sorry.