Case Study

Hotel Indigo Nanjing Garden Expo Peaceful Urban Oasis in a World-class Garden Expo

Nanjing, China

The Challenge

The Nanjing municipal government decided to hold the Garden Expo in 2021, requiring an area of more than 380 Ha (939 acres). The government asked HKS to design a world-class resort that would fit the theme of the Garden Expo in time for the opening. The designers faced a tight design period with a limited site condition, an abandoned quarry with an old cement plant around it.

Overcoming the disadvantageous location, the existing conditions and reflecting the locality of the project became the biggest challenge of the project.

The Design Solution

Located in the middle of the Purple East Central Area of Nanjing Tangshan Garden Expo, Hotel Indigo Nanjing Garden Expo is located at an enviable position overlooking the entire Regeneration Garden valley and flower terrace. Relying on the surrounding undulating mountains and excavated ore rock walls, the hotel’s scattered villas are separated by courtyards, connecting the winding footpaths and waterways. Inspired by the neighborhood culture of Indigo, the hotel is a tranquil place with mountains and serene waters.

The master plan for the initial phase celebrates the natural topography of the site. Guest rooms are located around eight courtyards, minimizing their profile and creating the overall appearance of a local village. The north and south sides of the resort are connected by a central water feature, and guest rooms hover above the landscape, leaving the ground plane more open to highlight the natural surroundings.

The roof adopts the image of ore that has been suspended in the air and shines for all to see. The design of the 24-hour restaurant is based on the tent of geologists who set up camp at the base of the nearby ore mine. Meanwhile, early-morning diners can get a perfect view of the sunrise

Inside the resort, public spaces are located on the west, overlooking the cliff of the Time Graben. This lofty site offers guests inside a commanding, 270-degree view of the striking landscape. The lobby and banquet hall form the main internal nodes of the overall design. Additional public areas and guest rooms are connected through a corridor on the first floor to create a meandering, wild and exclusive journey through the site.

The Design Impact

Located near the gate of the Jiangsu Garden Expo Park, this project provides boutique accommodations for short-distance travelers. The concept of the project was “the land of peach blossoms in a metropolis,” intended to provide those that have long-lived in a bustling metropolis with a calm life of peach blossoms, while meeting customers’ needs on holidays.

Project Features

  • 23,000 m² (227,409 sf)
  • Five Star Resort
  • 88 guest rooms
  • Ballroom
  • On-site health club
  • Indoor swimming pool
  • 24-hour on-site restaurant
  • Underground parking lot


  • 2023 MIPIM Asia Gold Award for the Best Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure project
  • 2022-2023 Asia Pacific Property Awards, Winner in the category of Hotel Architecture, China
  • 2022 Boutique Design Gold Key Awards for Excellence, Hotel Upscale
  • 2022 Pro+ Award, Gold Award
  • 2021 Reard Design Competition For Culture Tourism and Themed Recreation, Honor Award