For more than a decade, China has been a front-runner in the world’s skyscraper race. Now the country is taking the pole position in digging “groundscrapers” -- enormous structures built mostly underground.
Most recently, ground has been broken on construction of a high-end hotel at the foot of Shanghai’s Tianmashan in a 100-meter-deep pit.
Developed by Shanghai Shimao Property Group and to be managed by InterContinental Hotels Group, the hotel, named InterContinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland, is expected to extend 19 stories into the bottom of the pit. It's due to open in late 2014 or early 2015.
Once completed, the deepest story of the luxury resort will be approximately 700 meters lower than the top floor of the world’s-highest-hotel-to-be, the Shanghai Tower J Hotel in Shanghai Tower, set for completion around the same time. Located about 45 kilometers southwest of Shanghai's city center, the pit in Tianmashan is 100 meters deep, 240 meters long and 160 meters wide. The lowest 20 meters are filled with stagnant rainwater, which the hotel will retain.
“The pit has served as a quarry since the 1950s,” said Yao Qi senior branding manager of Shanghai Shimao Property Group. "It has been abandoned since the year 2000."
Shimao purchased the surrounding land in 2006 in order to build Shimao Shanghai Wonderland, a large-scale theme park integrating hospitality, leisure and entertainment elements. The hotel is planned as part of the wonderland complex. Construction of the 380-room InterContinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland commenced last month. The 19-story hotel will have three levels above ground, and 16 underground, including an underwater restaurant.
“A 60-meter glass curtain will be built to mimic a waterfall next to the resort’s main structure,” said Yao.
Designed by UK-based engineering firm Atkins, the company behind the ostentatious Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, the quarry hotel design bagged a Gold Medal at last year's commercial real estate MIPIM Asia Awards.
Hotel planners are considering taking advantage of the site's surrounding cliffs by hosting activities such as rock climbing and bungee jumping. Industry experts believe nightly room rates will start from RMB 2,000 (US$320), twice the price currently charged by nearby five-star hotels. Shimao is investing a total of RMB 3.5 billion (US$555 million) in the 428,200-square-meter Shimao Shanghai Wonderland, of which RMB 600 million (US$95 million) will go toward the subterranean resort.
The Shanghai property group has yet to reveal detailed plans for the rest of the wonderland complex. BD+C