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Atlantis Sanya, Hainan

How to shape a luxury resort fitting all-year-round tropical climate?

Overlooking the South China Sea at Sanya, Hainan, Atlantis Sanya is a super deluxe hotel with a GFA of more than 240,000m2, comprising a 240m tall hotel building with 1,300 rooms, five deluxe underwater suites, an aquarium and a water park. In collaboration with Fosun International, Arup has provided total engineering services including structural, MEP and planning to bring this first Atlantis resort to China, and turn it into an icon of luxury at the ‘Hawaii of China’ for local and international travellers.

Project Summary


240m+ tall hotel building

24m wide only for the narrowest floor

900solar panels installed for a water heating system

©Marcel Lam Photography

Realising a sail-shaped landmark

As always in the case with hotel design, there was tremendous pressure on the structural depth, especially along the room corridors for this 52-story sail-shaped hotel tower. This was magnified by the relatively low floor heights. A combination of ‘pinning’ beam joints, reduced beam depths and flat slab floor framing was adopted to deliver the high floor-to-ceiling heights and beamless room ceilings. Moreover, the tower architectural form reduces with height and has sloping columns on the south and north façades, making the hotel floor a very long one in plan – 120m long at the base and 24m wide at its narrowest. Special design measures were taken for torsional effects, construction shrinkage and long-term settlement.

MEP solution for new marine experience

Apart from 1,300 rooms with five deluxe underwater suites accommodated in the hotel building, the resort boasts one of the largest open-air aquariums in the world offering more than 80,000 marine species, and a water park of about 200,000m2. Arup’s integrated MEP solutions for these facilities include an intensive study into cooling and heating source for the whole development in its scheme stage and implementation. The life support system in the aquarium and water park is equipped with high-security cooling and heating source and different water temperatures can be applied to different fish ponds to provide the optimal living environment for the amazing sea creatures.

Shaping a green luxury icon

Surrounded by a clean green tropical environment with an aquarium that provides a marine education experience, sustainability is one of the core elements of Atlantis Sanya and Arup has also integrated it into our tailored MEP solutions, taking geographical and climate features into consideration. An air-source heat pump system was chosen for the water park pool heating and a water heating system with nearly 900m2 of solar panels was implemented to provide domestic hot water for the hotel, utilising the local high temperature and abundant solar resource. Chilled water air-conditioning was adopted for hotel and condensation heat recovery was chosen for pre-heating the hotel swimming pool, both reducing energy consumption for the energy-intensive operation of a resort.

Frequent typhoons resilience

Located at Hainan with all-year-round tropical climate, the resort is subject to severe wind loading, particularly during typhoons. Arup specified and guided the wind tunnel tests to identify the critical design wind loads and determined final design loads which were less than the generic code specified values. A number of creative measures were also introduced, including attenuating the tower crown porosity to reduce the wind impact on the tower. Backup power supply by diesel generator up to 48 hours was designed for critical MEP and life support systems for the hotel, aquarium and water park during emergency. Combining the ‘sponge city’ concept, rainwater is also recycled for use to control runoff during rainy days.

©Marcel Lam Photography