A fabricators dream vacation
A water show takes place in the above-ground lobby several times a day.
Mr. Fisher, the hotel’s seafood restaurant, is beneath the water level and features an aquarium wall with sharks and stingrays.
This Is How China Was Able to Build the World’s First Subterranean Hotel
The InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland is built 16 stories below ground level—into a flooded quarry
When you approach the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland hotel from its driveway, you’re greeted by a low-profile, two-story building with a grassy roof—it’s hardly what you’d expect from a 336-room luxury hotel. That’s because 16 of the hotel’s 18 floors are beneath the earth’s surface. Wonderland is the first hotel in the world to be built underground, though it’s not a subterranean dungeon as you might expect. It’s built into the cliffs of a formerly abandoned quarry about 30 miles from Shanghai’s city center, descending nearly 290 feet down to a lake at the bottom of the pit. The best view of the hotel is from above (guests who arrive via helicopter get the prime perspective, but other guests can take a walk along the edge of the quarry to an overlook), where you can visualize the hotel’s undulating yin-yang shape, representing the balance between man and nature, between urban life and country life.
The quarry was one of a handful in the Songjiang suburb of Shanghai that operated through the 1950s but has been abandoned ever since. “The site was really a scar on the surface of the earth,” said Martin Jochman of JADE+QA architects at a press conference. “We showed how to take a difficult and unusual site that nobody knew what to do with and make it useful again, revitalizing it with a new life.” Jochman and his firm designed the $300 million project, which is InterContinental Hotels Group’s 200th property globally.
“Originally we were given absolutely no limitations on how to approach the design. The brief was really about producing a resort which used the quarry as best as it could,” said Jochman. “The inspiration for all this was the natural environment itself. It was the quarry, the cliffs, the green hills around it, the lake—despite it being an industrial site surrounded by industrial buildings, it was very pretty.”
He decided to distill these natural elements into the basis of his design: The cliff became the body of the hotel, where the guest rooms are located, the water became the faux waterfall down the center of the building that houses the elevators, and the hills are represented by the green roof of the structure, which was designed not only to blend into the landscape but also to provide energy-efficient temperature regulation.
“Sustainability was an important part of the whole design process—using passive sustainability that was built into the building by design,” noted Jochman, who worked within the microclimate of the quarry to maximize efficiency. The location of the hotel within the site, for instance, was chosen to provide the most sunlight, not only for guest rooms but also for the hotel’s solar panels. The hotel also uses the natural air shaft between its structure and the cliff wall for insulation in the winter and cooling in the summer.
While the architect was given no design restrictions from hotel owner Shimao Group, Mother Nature had other plans in mind. The engineering team had to face a number of challenges presented with a subterranean project: When concrete was sent down into the quarry via standard construction chutes, for instance, the materials separated and were unusable. The team ended up patenting more 41 different engineering methods over the course of the build. As a result, it took more than 12 years for the hotel to be constructed, with its doors officially opening in November 2018. While the hotel is now open to guests, new features, like a rock-climbing wall on the face of the quarry and a zip line over the lake, will be added in the months to come.
“This building has become a landmark,” said Jochman. “Yet the landmark here is not something that sticks out, but something that fits in.”
Rock of Ages Granite Quarry
Tour the world's largest deep-hole dimension granite quarry, where you can view the plant where gravestones are made and roll a ball down the outdoor granite bowling alley.
VISITING THE ROCK OF AGES Corporation’s granite quarry is basically a tour of the immense.
The quarry itself is the world’s largest deep-hole dimension granite quarry, and though 600 feet of its depths, approximately half is under the green water. A van drives visitors up a bumpy road to the site, which can be viewed from behind a gate.
The ride up to the quarry passes piles and piles of granite blocks; since 1885, quarry workers have simply dumped pieces of granite with fractures or cracks in these sections called “grout piles,” which comes from the Scottish word for scrap (many Scots worked in the quarry in its early days). These piles are found all over the town.
After the tour of the quarry, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the granite plant which, again, is gigantic. Huge blocks of granite are moved around, cut, polished, and engraved for gravestones. The plant is a hive of activity and incredibly busy after the slow-moving machinery of the quarry. Most of America’s granite headstones come from right here. Rock of Ages is the biggest manufacturer of memorials and mausoleum and has been quarrying the famous Barre Gray Granite since 1855.
Before leaving, visitors can help themselves to some free souvenir granite from a granite scrap bin and roll a few bowling balls down the outdoor granite lane. The Rock of Ages experimented with granite bowling lanes in the 1950s, but the concept never caught on. This lane was a prototype during those early years and has recently been restored for family fun
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