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InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland: From scar on landscape to national treasure

by | 27 Dec 2019 | Design

Art and nature married — many make “almost a pilgrimage” to see the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland.

Representing Atkins Global at Creative Spark at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Shanghai, E. Seymour told delegates how their stunning hotel brings out the best of nature.

Eric Seymour, Operations Director – Architecture at Atkins Global, attended TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Shanghai to present the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland project as part of the Creative Spark hotel design competition.

The latest instalment of the now legendary TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR day-long networking event and conference took place on December 5th at the swanky Andaz Xintiandi Shanghai.

Sustainable designs in Shanghai

The InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland is an 18-storey construction embedded into the surrounding landscape, with only two of the floors protruding above the visible ground.

“This is the story of how we found what was once a scar on the landscape and turned it into a national treasure,” said Seymour.

The building’s facade is set deep into the hollow of the quarry and is only visible once inside the excavated part of the site.

This 5-star hotel will be the first of its kind to be built inside an abandoned quarry, and since Atkins, the architects behind the project, were concerned with the idea of environmental protection and sustainability, and so decided to incorporate landscaped gardens and terraces as part of the hotel.

Art and nature married

“One of the biggest challenges was the subterranean iconography. But today, many from China and abroad make almost a pilgrimage to see the hotel. As China marks 40 years of urbanisation, the project signifies more than just a hotel. It takes on national importance,” Seymour told delegates at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Shanghai.

“The project team saw an 88 metre hole in the mountain, which was used for mining and as a quarry. The essence of the project was moving from the past to the future. So, we explored the symbiotic relationship between built and natural features — art and nature married,” he added.

“The goal — and end-result — was to bring back and bring out the best of nature,” Seymour said.

For an extra thrill, the property will also boast an extreme sports centre which will be cantilevered over the quarry. The architects have also gone to great lengths to ensure that guests will be able to experience the quarry’s natural environment, and as such, some of the suites are situated below the level of the water and have windows with a view of the underwater realm.

“There is a hidden water garden where guests can find an oasis of calm in a 383-room hotel,” Seymour pointed out.

This site is indeed a wonderland of natural sights and sounds, and perhaps the most surprising of all is a waterfall that releases a cascade of water into the bottom of the quarry.

Creative Spark is a hotel design competition that includes three architects/interior designers, and it’s a staple of TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR programming. Shortlisted finalists present their projects, and further discuss their work as part of a stimulating panel discussion, giving valuable insights to the assembled guests about the state of hospitality architecture and design.

For information on how to enter the Creative Spark competition or about upcoming TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR events, get in touch with TOPHOTELPROJECTS Head of Global Events & Conferences Kayley van der Velde.



Atkins is one of the world’s most respected design, engineering and project management consultancies. ion.

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InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland: From scar on landscape to national treasure


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