Holiday Inn Express Hong Kong SoHo

Design Concept

Sustainability is a theme that unifies all of CKL’s recent projects, and the Holiday Inn Express in Sheung Wan is our crowning achievement in this body of work so far: a 36-storey, 274-room business hotel with a green heart. Environmentally conscious design impacted every aspect of this project, from construction to operation. Without sacrificing guest comfort, the hotel meets the highest environmental standards at every level, from air quality and natural lighting to temperature control. In fact, it is the first high-rise building in the world to achieve four platinum ratings in green certificates: whether LEED (US Green Building Council), BEAM Plus (Hong Kong Green Building Council), Green Mark (Building and Construction Authority, Singapore), and Three-Star from the China Green Building Council. 

CKL’s collaborative approach established an integrated team that articulated shared goals from the beginning. All the stakeholders were brought together early in the process, so that they could make considered decisions at every stage of the project, to ensure maximum functionality and flexibility in the finished building. Multipurpose spaces and adaptable service components align seamlessly with an accommodating structural system, allowing internal spaces to be altered at will with the minimum of fuss, while reducing waste and inconvenience during any future renovations. Similarly, all the fixtures and furnishings were designed to be demountable, reusable, reconfigurable and recyclable.

The building is designed to be seen from across the harbour and the hotel’s rooftop logo has now become part of the city’s famous skyline. This means hotel users are also treated to gorgeous views of the harbour and the surrounding city from various points within. Vistas unfold not just from the guest rooms, but also from the podium garden and the external staircase balconies that overlook a nearby community park.

Covered with an abundance of plants, the green roof and external green wall contribute a cooling effect to the neighbourhood, while also providing a natural environment for birds. These features also absorb excess water, helping to reduce the city’s drainage load during heavy storms. Captured rainwater, along with recaptured drain water, is in turn used to irrigate the plants. The project also contributes to its surroundings in other ways. During construction, measures were taken to mitigate noise pollution and airborne dust, and now that the building is finished it encourages non-vehicular transportation by offering bike storage and changing facilities. The hotel is also near a subway station, making public transport an obvious choice for its guests. And for those who do choose to drive, recharging stations are provided for electric cars. 

Materials and Energy

Smart materials played an important role in the project’s high ratings for sustainability. All of the newly purchased timber was sourced from fully certified forests, and reused timber acquired from local renovation projects was used wherever possible. Great care was taken to ensure materials and products used throughout the building were entirely stable, with no risk of harmful compounds or chemicals. 

Most of the necessary raw materials were manufactured locally. In fact, a full 50 per cent of the building’s components were fabricated in regional factories, and offsite production was used wherever possible to reduce material wastage and installation time, as well as limit the number of deliveries in a very congested neighbourhood. It also improved construction precision and quality.

In the guest rooms, occupancy sensors reduce the energy wasted on unnecessary lighting and operate curtains that prevent heat gain during the day and light pollution at night. The team also invented a special headboard that automatically adjusts the room temperature when the occupant is asleep, focusing cooling on the area immediately around the bed. These kinds of building automation systems improve guests’ comfort levels while reducing energy consumption – which has since been measured at almost 60 per cent lower than the standard benchmark for hotels in Hong Kong.

The hotel is conceived as a living experiment that will evolve over time. Building operators received training on the hotel’s special features – which are continuously fine-tuned – and the hotel staff are encouraged to take an interest and monitor the building’s performance. The project is also intended as a teaching tool, sharing the vision of sustainability with others in the construction industry as well as the wider public. Themed tours are offered and technical visits are available for those who would like to know more. Educational leaflets are available at the lobby and in guestrooms for a more casual transmission of information.

A Model for Future Projects

The Holiday Inn Express is a thoroughly integrated and sustainable project that has achieved all the major goals of green design – namely a reduction of carbon emissions, water and energy efficiency, environmental optimisation, and minimising waste of natural resources. It is hoped that by implementing such innovations, the hotel will inspire good construction practices, not only in Hong Kong but also in mainland China and beyond. Importantly, CKL believes that the technologies adopted in this project can now be applied anywhere. The Holiday Inn stands as a high-quality example of holistic planning, where the highest standard of human comfort has been provided at minimal expense to the environment.