12 Apr 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
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2019 issue 3

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Leisure Management - What lies beneath

Editor's letter

What lies beneath

Around the world, obsolete quarries are being transformed from dangerous eyesores to inspiring destinations –providing new ideas for transforming particularly challenging brownfield sites

Magali Robathan, CLAD mag
The InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland, a ‘symbolic idea’ of what can be done with abandoned quarries

In this issue, we interview Martin Jochman, the architect behind the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland – a luxury hotel located almost 90m below ground in an abandoned quarry just outside Shanghai.

When Jochman (then working for Atkins) won the commission to design a new hotel as part of a large commercial and residential scheme with the old quarry at its heart, he was given a height limit of just 25 metres – the developers Shimao were determined to minimise the impact of the building on the surrounding landscape.

Jochman suggested something a little radical – why not build the hotel into the quarry itself?

It wasn’t an easy solution – the project team were faced with challenges including the difficulties of transporting building materials down into the quarry, the risk of flooding and rockfall and the need to ensure it was earthquake resistant. The results are pretty impressive though – an 18-storey hotel with16 storeys underground (two storeys of which are underwater, with some guests suites looking out onto an aquarium), built with passive sustainability at its heart.

“There was no precedent to this building,” says Jochman. “It’s become a symbolic idea of what can be done.”

Once depleted of their resources, quarries are often left abandoned where they might fill with rainwater or be used as landfills; they can become dangerous, polluted eyesores.

Although it’s not something we’ve covered extensively in CLADmag, there are a range of interesting quarry projects taking shape across the world.

In Atlanta, Bellwood Quarry – an obsolete 100-year-old granite quarry – has been an eyesore for residents for a long time, but thanks to a huge investment it’s in the process of being turned into a destination greenspace. Miron Quarry in Montreal – formerly a limestone quarry and then one of Canada’s largest landfill sites – is currently being turned into “something like New York’s Central Park,” according to Laure Waridel of environmental NGO Équiterre (speaking to Montreal CTV news). A hugely ambitious environmental rehabilitation project, Parc Frédéric-Back has already opened on the 153-hectare site on top of the old city dump, with work ongoing to continue to transform it into a major outdoor attraction with sports and cultural facilities, bike paths and a circus centre. Elsewhere, quarries are being turned into wildlife habitats, parks, mixed-use housing districts, water management systems and more, while Martin Jochman is investigating the feasibility of further quarry reuse projects.

Abandoned quarries can be a depressing blight for communities. These projects provide new ideas for transforming challenging sites and will hopefully result in facilities which benefit communities and lessen the environmental impact of quarrying.

Originally published in CLADmag 2019 issue 3

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