Designed by Shanghai-based firm A00 Architecture and completed in 2007, URBN is China's first ecologically responsible hotel and Asia's first carbon neutral hotel. Existing previously as a crudely gutted post office and ex-factory space, the site is now a stylish, innovative and modern urban retreat. Realizing this vision required the rigorous integration of sensible technology and smart design. URBN is also partially responsible for the creation of GIGA. Following a flood of inquiries about the availability of green building materials in China, the architects of the project made their materials database public by posting it on the web under the name 'Green Ideas Green Actions' - abbreviated as GIGA.

The architects had to suggest, design and include as many initiatives as they could to reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint, from construction to operation to maintenance. Examples of ecologically responsible initiatives include the rehabilitation of existing structures and materials in the existing factory structure, second-hand elevator, and building all floors and walls with locally-sourced reclaimed timber, brick and tiles. A water-based AC system with heat recovery ventilators and low energy lighting design strategies are complemented by passive solar shading and double-glazed windows to minimize energy consumption. Indoor environmental quality is maintained with no/low VOC paints on all interior walls, the introduction of 6m of green space per guest (garden, green roof and plant wall) and ecologically safe cleaning products.


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