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  • Writer's pictureRicardo Escobar

Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, China's horseshoe-shaped Hotel.

China's horseshoe-shaped Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort hotel is set to be the country's latest unusual landmark.

One of the most out-of-the-box and extravagant expansions built so far, this was the idea of ​​the architect Ma Yansong of MAD Architects, for the expansion of the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort or also known as Moon Hotel in China; the so-called "horseshoe-shaped" hotel is located in Huzhou City, at the south of Taihum Lake, north of Zhejiang Province, between Nanjing and Shanghai, China. But this brings to my attention, how can you create a landmark and revive the economy and put a city on the map? also, how the structural system was built to create such a rounded and clear form considering it is placed next to a lake.

The context in which it was built was due to the Sheraton hotel-chain, that were planning an expansion in 2013 with the opening of several hotels throughout Asia including 4 in Africa and in the middle east.

-“MAD Architects: Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort.” designboom, October 10, 2013.

This expansion is due to the rapid economic development of China, which is leading to invest more and produce structures of comparable quality, as well as the growth of the Sheraton hotel chain in China has had a notable notoriety.

-“Sheraton to Open 30 Hotels in 2013.” Breaking Travel News, February 4, 2013.

In 2012, Business Insider put Huizhou in 8th position as one of the fastest-growing cities on the planet which expect to grow from 1990 to 2025 791.7%. As a result of this, the previous Sheraton Moon hotel has been displaced by this large structure which has 27 floors and 321 rooms.

The case of Hozhou knew that incorporating a full asset lifecycle approach that balances shovel ready projects with more strategic priorities, they could help make our urban centers more resilient to global shocks such as climate change and urbanization. With the right choices they can create a more sustainable future for a global population that has been burdened by weeks of keeping physically distant, to help us come together to rise above this tragic period.

Michale S. Burke CEO of AECOM says that “while immediate payouts are needed to keep households and businesses afloat, infrastructure spending provides one of the greatest returns on investments.” And if they already knew that infrastructure is a stimulus to the economy, by giving it an epic-cultural-local shape, they can make this building a regional landmark considering that “an event or development that marks a turning point or a stage”. and in this case is not just a turning point to focus from the locals, but for the entire economy of china.



Now that we are all aware that this infrastructure is a massive return element of investment, the MAD architects had to figure out the shape, to empower the economic and cultural forces of this building, and one of the challenges that the architects took was the integration between the structure and the nature that surrounds the hotel, that is, the incorporation of elements such as the water of Lake Taihum, one of the longest lakes of freshwater in China. Nowaday being aware of the environmental impact of your project is a huge thing, the MAD architects took nature into account, that is an important element for a designer, this case is integrating futuristic and avant-garde elements in order to reduce the impact produced by the construction.

After Huzhou was know to be a growing city that cares about the integration of the nature and industry to have balance, the MAD architects knew that they had to find a perfect cultural element as inspiration to intervene the site, to create the new landmark of Huzhou, that is why they inspired the rounded shape in on a CRAB, the Horseshoe Crab is a native and popular on the city, and the architects knew that thit element could be the prefect, nature-local-cultural friendly element that could make this intervention perfect for the area. That's why the locals have baptized the building with the nickname “The Horseshoe Hotel” (the crab hotel).

Another element as a result of this integration is the beauty that is shown at night, the reflection of the hotel in the water is an image of a beautiful connection between the nature and the building; from here comes the name of "Moon Hotel" for the refraction of the moon in the water, this result is due to think beyond what our eyes can see, is to see an empty place and imagine structure and see how It could improve your environment, I personally think this is the cherry on top of the cake, they had already an impressive shape, and I can't imagine that meeting when they decided to light up with interactive LED strips this building, maybe is a little cheese, hearing the idea before is done, but when you see the finish building it makes so much sense and break the stereotypes of a landmark, that it can just be seeing during the day, but now also at night.

The concept that architect Ma Yansong explained was to be inspired by traditional bridges represented in Chinese paintings and mentioned: “Throughout Chinese history, people have always sought harmonious relationship with nature and this has become an important part of Chinese culture and tradition.”

We can visualize that, giving the ring shape is a great structural design challenge, which was very well thought-out when developing it with a high-capacity reinforced concrete formation core, light weight and earthquake resistance. I could add that the use of hydrophobic cement for underwater concreting that, although they do not mention the use of it, can be very useful for the part of the structure that is under water, since it is a type of cement that repels the water and used in structures subjected to it permanently.

The two towers join through some floors at their highest part to form the arch that is clearly remarkable, this represents another challenge because the lower structures must be well grounded and constructed to be able to achieve higher levels and that may not be a challenge to think about what will hold both sides together.

Images from: Archidaily



While European construction projects are being postponed or curtailed, China’s development continues at a rapid pace. Following the opening of the world’s biggest building in Chengdu and the construction of a ‘ground scraping’ five-star hotel is being built, downwards, into the sheer rock face of an abandoned quarry near Shanghai, the latest project to attract attention is the ‘horseshoe hotel’. Likewise, proposing an extension of the part of a hotel is a very different thing to create a whole concept and a space where there can be a physical, emotional and sensory experience such as this hotel through its form, what it represents and what it makes people feel when visit; and as I mentioned before, the integration of nature with a structure, not everyone is capable of doing, only one who is empathic with the environment is able to propose a challenge as big as this, as well as, taking cultural roots as an inspiration is impressive, since Ma Yansong was inspired by the representation of the bridges in Chinese paintings and capturing it in a structure is simply amazing; taking and visualizing another natural element like the moon that is reflected in the water with the play of lights provided by the hotel it is a skill that is molded as we get in touch with the outside world and where we can see where we are able to create something new one of the objectives of the architects that I thought were raised was to provide visitors with a unique and different experience from what is normally lived in conventional hotels; in this way they allow to create memories and those memories will take them to the same place like this beautiful hotel; it was not only an architectural challenge, but also a challenge where there is a sensory experience for customers, through a set of curves and lights. This is only one of the architectural samples that the designers of this era have left us, but we must think ahead and that, as architects, we can propose and leave our mark on the world.

The revitalization of a hotel is not easy task and requires a long process of planning, thinking, drawing and plans; this is what took place at the Sheraton Moon Hotel, they managed to give another approach to the traditional hotel and made it one of the greatest architectural pillars, in this way, we can see innovation with a view of what we can expect in the future and what we, the new architects we must be able to rethink and create new structures with a purpose in order. It is not only to create, it is to propose a goal, a problem and solve it creatively so that customers can enjoy it, as well as feel satisfied as architects by one of our works.

Nowadays the Moon Hotel, really is one of the landmarks of Huzhou, that interacts with residents, tourists, and businessman that visits the city for its economic growth, I personally think that this type of designs is very effective if you are trying to create a landmark, but also to reduce environmental-social-political impact but increasing the cultural-economic forces in a positive way.

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