and toppled it onto the ground bed below, thereby exchanging excessive heights for surface coverage –Charles Jencks called the typological model a “skyscraper which has met a ‘fate worse than death.’”
The term had been applied to works such as Constant’s New Babylon and Candilis and Wood’s 1964 Berlin Free University project, before being modified by Steven Holl, whose much-celebrated “horizontal skyscraper” in Shenzhen was completed last year. The groundscraper, then, in its contemporary iteration, is closer to a “depthscraper” or an “earthscraper“, the observe of the skyscraper that flips the traditional tower dynamic of ground and sky and drills the mass of the structure into the earth.
The latest in this trend, the Intercontinental Shimao Shanghai Wonderland, has just broken ground in an abandoned quarry at the foot of Tianmashan Mountain, some 45 kilometres southwest of the city center. Shanghai Shimao Property Group, the developers behind the project, worked with the British engineering firm Atkins to design the 380-room luxury hotel as part of a 428,000 square-meter theme park. The 19-storey structure will be grafted onto the side of the 100-meter pit, with 16 floors burrowing down towards the deep quarry floor. The bottom two levels will have an underwater restaurant, an athletic complex for water-based sports, and a 10-meter deep aquarium. A massive 60-meter tall glass curtain wall adjacent to the main structure will descend down the rockface in a manner that will “mimic a waterfall”, while the surrounding cliffs will be given over to bungee jumping and rockclimbing. At present, costs for the Wonderland site have been projected at $555 million, a figure that will surely increase as construction progresses. Each of the hotel rooms is expected to run at a rate of $320 per night, if you want to start saving up for the shark suite*.