Zaha Hadid Architects completes Morpheus Hotel as world’s first free-form high-rise exoskeleton

Zaha Hadid Architects has completed the new Morpheus Hotel, part of the City of Dreams resort in Macau.

The project includes the world’s first free-form high-rise exoskeleton. Conceived as a vertical extrusion of its rectangular footprint, a series of voids is carved through the property’s 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. Significantly, the use of an exoskeleton means that the building's interiors are not interrupted by supporting walls or columns.

Zaha Hadid was commissioned to build the hotel in 2012. At that time, foundations were already in place of a condominium tower that did not progress. ZHA designed the Morpheus as an 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 guest amenities are located. The $1.1-billion project is one of the last projects that Hadid worked on before her death in 2016.

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Building Voids

The building's vertical extrusion generated a monolithic block with a development envelope that is restricted to a 160-meter height by local planning codes. This block was then “carved” with voids.

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.

There are three horizontal vortices that generate the voids through the building and define the hotel’s internal public spaces, creating corner suites with views of both the atrium and the city. This arrangement also maximizes the number of hotel rooms with external views and guarantees an equal room distribution on either side of the building.

In between the free-form voids that traverse the atrium, a series of bridges create spaces for the hotel’s restaurants, bars and guest lounges.

Linked at ground level with the surrounding three-story podium of the City of Dreams resort, the Morpheus has 770 guestrooms, suites and sky villas. Other amenities include includes civic spaces, meeting and event facilities, gaming rooms, lobby atrium, restaurants, spa and rooftop pool.

The atrium has 12 glass elevators providing views of the hotel’s interior and exterior as they travel between the voids of the building.

Photo credit: Virgile Simon Bertrand

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