Morpheus, a new flagship hotel for the City of Dreams resort in Macau, opened last month. Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) was commissioned to build the hotel in 2012. At that time, foundations were already in place of a condominium tower that did not progress.
Informed by the fluid forms within China’s rich traditions of jade carving, the Morpheus’ design combines dramatic public spaces and generous guest rooms with innovative engineering and formal cohesion. Conceived as a vertical extrusion of its rectangular footprint, a series of voids is carved through its center to create an urban window connecting the hotel’s interior communal spaces with the city and generating the sculptural forms that define the hotel’s public spaces. Linked at ground level with the surrounding three-story podium of the City of Dreams resort, the Morpheus houses 770 guest rooms, suites and sky villas, and includes civic spaces, meeting and event facilities, gaming rooms, lobby atrium, restaurants, spa and rooftop pool, as well as extensive back-of-house areas and ancillary facilities.
ZHA designed the Morpheus as a simple extrusion of the existing abandoned foundations; using this rectangular footprint to define a 40-story building of two internal vertical circulation cores connected at podium and roof levels where the many guest amenities were required. The underlying diagram of the hotel’s design is a pair of towers connected at ground and roof levels. The central atrium in-between these towers runs the height of the hotel and is traversed by external voids that connect the north and south facades. These voids create the urban window that links the hotel’s interior communal spaces with the city. In-between the free-form voids that traverse the atrium, a series of bridges create unique spaces for the hotel’s restaurants, bars and guest lounges by renowned chefs including Alain Ducasse and Pierre Hermé. The atrium’s twelve glass elevators provide guests with remarkable views of the hotel’s interior and exterior as they travel between the voids of the building.
The building’s exoskeleton optimizes the interiors by creating spaces that are uninterrupted by supporting walls or columns. The world’s first free-form high-rise exoskeleton, its rich pattern of structural members at lower levels progresses upwards to a less dense grid of lighter members at its summit. Viviana Muscettola, ZHA’s project director explains, “Morpheus combines its optimal arrangement with structural integrity and sculptural form. The design is intriguing as it makes no reference to traditional architectural typologies.”