Asia’s most popular entertainment destination, Macau welcomed more than 32 million tourists in 2017, with visitor numbers increasing every year. Located in Cotai, Macau, City of Dreams is a leading integrated resort including casino, two theatres, shopping district, 20 restaurants and four hotels.

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 centre 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-storey 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.

The design resolves the hotel’s many complex programmes within a single cohesive envelope. 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.

ZHA designed the Morpheus as a simple extrusion of the existing abandoned foundations; using this rectangular footprint to define a 40-storey building of two internal vertical circulation cores connected at podium and roof levels where the many guest amenities were required.

This extrusion generated a monolithic block making best use its development envelope that is restricted to a 160m 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.

Three horizontal vortices generate the voids through the building and define the hotel’s dramatic internal public spaces; creating unique corner suites with spectacular views of both the atrium and the city. This arrangement maximises 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 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.

As one of the world’s leading hotels, the Morpheus’ interior spaces necessitated a high degree of adaptability to accommodate the many varying requirements of its guest amenities. 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.

Morpheus draws on a ZHA’s 40 years of research into the integration of interior and exterior, civic and private, solid and void, Cartesian and Einsteinian. Space is woven within structure to tie disparate programmes together and constantly make connections.

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.

“Macau’s buildings have previously referenced architecture styles from around the world. Morpheus has evolved from its unique environment and site conditions as a new architecture expressly of this city.

“The expertise of all members of the Morpheus team has created new possibilities for architecture,” continued Muscettola. “The comprehensive parametric model combined all of the hotel’s aesthetic, structural and fabrication requirements and will radically change how our built environment is planned and constructed.”

Lawrence Ho, chairman and CEO of Melco Resorts said, “From the very beginning, we shared ZHA’s vision and determination to push boundaries. Morpheus offers a journey of the imagination. From the curved exterior to the dramatic interior spaces, it pleases the eye and excites the senses: a contemporary masterpiece to be enjoyed by many generations to come.”



Size: 147,860 sqm

Height: 42 floors

Program: Approximately 780 guestrooms, suites and sky villas, meeting and event facilities, casino, lobby atrium, restaurants, spa and sky pool

52m x 99m - Footprint

160m - Height

147,860 sqm -Total GFA

42 - Number of storeys

40m - Height of Atrium lobby space

780 - Number of keys

28 to 36 - Hotel rooms per floor

12 Panoramic lifts

8 Services lifts

4 Stairs

2 Atrium sky bridges

43,388 sqm - Total glazed envelope area

14,300 sqm - Freeform glazed envelope

24,577 - Total glass panels

57,000 sqm - Total Exoskeleton cladding area

12,155 sqm (21%) - Doubled-curved Exoskeleton cladding area

18,580 - Steel cleat connections for freeform Exoskeleton cladding

79,310 - Freeform Exoskeleton cladding panel stiffeners

1,059,234 - Freeform Exoskeleton cladding aluminium brackets

1,212,637 - Unique freeform Exoskeleton cladding components

1,668,301 - Total freeform Exoskeleton cladding fabricated components

5,135,563 - Freeform Exoskeleton cladding fasteners

137,238m - Combined length of freeform Exoskeleton cladding extrusions

28,000 - Structural steel tonnage

70,500 metres cubed - Volume of reinforced concrete

Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)
Design: Zaha Hadid, Patrik Schumacher
ZHA Project Directors: Viviana Muscettola Michele Pasca di Magliano
ZHA Facade Director: Paolo Matteuzzi
ZHA Project Architects: Michele Salvi, Bianca Cheung, Maria Loreto Flores, Clara Martins
ZHA Project Team Miron Mutyaba, Milind Khade, Pierandrea Angius, Massimo Napoleoni, Stefano Iacopini, Davide Del Giudice, Luciano Letteriello, Luis Migue Samanez, Cyril Manyara, Alvin Triestanto, Muhammed Shameel, Goswin Rothenthal, Santiago Fernandez- Achury, Vahid Eshraghi, Melika Aljukic
ZHA Interior Team: Daniel Fiser, Thomas Sonder, Daniel Coley, Yooyeon Noh, Jinqi Huang, Mirta Bilos, Alexander Kuroda, Gaganjit Singh, Marina Martinez, Shajay Bhooshan, Henry Louth, Filippo Nassetti, David Reeves, Marko Gligorov, Neil Rigden, Milica Pihler-Mirjanic, Grace Chung, Mario Mattia, Mariagrazia Lanza
ZHA Concept Team: Viviana Muscettola, Tiago Correia, Clara Martins, Maria Loreto Flores, Victor Orive, Danilo Arsic, Ines Fontoura, Fabiano Costinanza, Rafael Gonzalez, Muhammed Shameel
ZHA Facade Team: Michele Salvi, Miron Mutyaba (Grasshopper definition), Milind Khade, Pierandrea Angius, Stefano Iacopini, Davide Del Giudice, Luciano Letteriello, Alvin Triestanto, Bianca Cheung

Executive Architect: Leigh & Orange, Hong Kong
Local Architect: CAA City Planning & Engineering Consultants, Macau
Structural Engineering: Buro Happold International, London/ Hong Kong
M&E Engineering: J. Roger Preston
Facade Engineering: Buro Happold International, Hong Kong
Third party reviewer Rolf Jensen & Associates
Other interior designers
- Remedios Studio, Hong Kong – Guestrooms, L01 VIP lobby, L03 Spa and Gym, L40 Pool deck and pool villas
- Westar Architects International – L02 Gaming areas and Li Ying Restaurant, L42 Gaming Salons
- Jouin Manku – L03 Alain Ducasse Restaurant
- MC Design – L30 Executive Lounge
- Leigh & Orange, Macau – BOH Areas
Quantity Surveyor: WT Partnership, Hong Kong
Lighting Design: Isometrix, London/Hong Kong
Fire Engineering: Arup, Hong Kong
Acoustic Consultant: Shen Milson and Wilke, Hong Kong
Traffic Engineer: MVA Hong Kong

Morpheus Hotel by Zaha Hadid in Macau won the WA Award Cycle 30. Please find below the WA Award poster for this project.

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