The home of architecture and design in Asia-Pacific

Get the latest design news direct to your inbox!

URBN Hotel, Shanghai

China’s first carbon neutral hotel has many green claims to its name, and has also adopted a local approach, offering an authentic experience inspired by traditional China. Text by Julie Martin.

URBN Hotel, Shanghai


August 25th, 2010

Think ‘green building’ and for most of us Shanghai does not come immediately to mind.

This centrepiece of the world’s fastest-growing economy has grown from humble beginnings as a fishing and textiles township to become the world’s largest cargo port – a title it claimed in 2005 – and a city with a population to rival Australia’s.

Economic reforms in the early 1990s precipitated a building boom that defines today’s city skyline – a silhouette of Jetson-esque skyscrapers topped with flying saucer observation decks – and continues still in what Australian developer Jules Kwan (founding partner of Space Development) calls a “build it as fast as you can and as cheap as you can” mentality.

Pioneering Shanghai’s movement towards sustainable building, Space Development set out with Shanghai-based Canadian architects, A00 to turn a former prosthetics factory then post office into a 26-room sustainably-built boutique retreat that trumped all expectations by claiming the title of China’s first carbon neutral hotel, among numerous other accolades, in its first year of operation.

“The driving force behind the URBN Hotel was to build something that captured a uniquely Shanghai experience,” says Kwan, “and to do it in a way that was least damaging to the environment. We went carbon neutral as part of our evolving sustainable philosophy. It was not a trophy we set out to acquire.”

For the full text turn to page 218 of Indesign #42 on newsstands now.

Photography by Hans Schlupp


urnb hotel shanghai

INDESIGN is on instagram

Follow @indesignlive

The Indesign Collection

A searchable and comprehensive guide for specifying leading products and their suppliers

Indesign Our Partners

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest from our industry BFF's!

Related Stories

While you were sleeping

The internet never sleeps! Here's the stuff you might have missed