Fire & Risk Engineering Award of Excellence: InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland Hotel, Shanghai

Fang Li
Affiliated Research Scientist and Partner
WPI and Partner of Abundance, Shanghai

Reinterpreting the Fire Code for a Subterranean Hotel

Situated in an abandoned quarry approximately 90 meters deep in Shanghai, the InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland Hotel had very little precedent to reference for its design. The strategy—merging the hotel with a cliff face—turned the unsightly quarry into a destination that exemplifies the symbiosis between the built environment and landscape. As the hotel has an inverse relationship to the standard “ground level” of most other buildings, including two levels that are at least partially submerged in water, it required a slightly different approach to fire evacuation strategy. By parsing out the essential principles in existing fire codes, the project team was able to define two safe evacuation planes in case of a fire event, one at the entrance level, and one at the floor at the quarry’s base. The hotel’s roof features standard fire lanes, and a safe evacuation surface at the bottom of the hotel features a rescue platform to assist egress from the lower-level floors. Through the four fire elevators in the main building, the two evacuation planes are effectively linked.

At the northern end of the building, there is a bridge attached to the adjacent cliff wall, and in the south section, there is an evacuation staircase. After a fire or other disaster stabilizes, rescue teams can also be used as evacuation personnel on the pit platform. The natural water source at the bottom of the quarry serves as the intake for the fire pump room, and the mass of the water is used to maintain pressure in the pipes for fire-extinguishing purposes, an inversion of the high-pressure water tanks located on top of most standard buildings to maintain interior pressure.

View Building on The Skyscraper Center