Friday, September 21, 2018

Morpheus rises in Macau–Zaha Hadid’s final masterpiece

Asia’s newest landmark is an exoskeleton made of steel and aluminum cladding
/ 05:03 AM June 20, 2018

Morpheus at City of Dreams Macau as seen from the pool deck of the Hyatt

As the world’s first free-form, exoskeleton high-rise structure, Morpheus is undoubtedly Asia’s newest landmark.

The 39-story hotel’s total capital expenditure is $1.1 billion.


But, chances are, people will flock to see it not for its cost or newness—but for the fact that it is one of the last projects of the icon of architecture and design, Zaha Hadid. She died of heart attack in 2016. She was 65.

It took six years to complete from the time Hadid’s architecture firm was appointed by Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited to do the project.

Morpheus—named after the god of dreams in Greek mythology—was unveiled in glittering ceremonies last week in Macau.

In 2009, the integrated resort City of Dreams Macau opened. Lawrence Ho, chair and chief executive officer at Melco Resorts, has since been pushing boundaries, wanting City of Dreams to go beyond gaming and into lifestyle.

“Melco never rests, never follows convention. We want to provide our guests with experiences they will never get anywhere in the world,” Ho said at the press conference in Macau last week.

“Right from the start, I was determined to build something unique and extraordinary. We’re not just opening a new hotel—we’re opening a new chapter for Macau. We’ve built a landmark for the city and an icon for Asia.

French chef Alain Ducasse will open two restaurants at Morpheus.

“Morpheus is a thank you to China, and a love letter to Macau.”

Unconventional design

From afar, the two-tower structure stands out with its unconventional design that incorporates a steel mesh structure embracing reinforced concrete.


It was inspired by antique jade artifacts.

The towers are connected at the podium levels and the pool deck on the roof.

Two of Pierre Hermé’s delectable desserts

Like an animal or an insect’s exoskeleton (exterior skeleton), the building’s 28,000 tons of structural steel and 50,000 sq m of aluminum cladding help protect the interior.

“It’s what holds the building together,” said Frederic Jean-Marie Winckler, executive vice president, chief marketing and brand officer of Melco Resorts.

Inside, one is treated to the sight of a series of angles, from the soaring atrium and textured walls in the public area, to the five-sided bathtub and triangle-shaped shower tiles in the 772 guest rooms, suites and villas.

Interior designer Peter Remedios

Almost everything in the property is set at an angle, unlike traditional hotels that are often confined to a box-like structure.

California-based interior designer Peter Remedios, managing director at Remedios Studio, Inc., was up to the challenge.


“I always start with a story and that story is hedonism,” Remedios said.

“Macau is known for faux this, faux that; every fake theme has been done.”

Instead, he designed the guest rooms like super yachts. The bathroom, which is almost as big as the bedroom, is equipped with double sinks hewn from stone with bases made of the same wood used for pianos, a beautiful vanity with a retractable mirror, and a Dyson Supersonic hairdryer that retails for a little over P20,000.

The angled buffet table at the Club Lounge

There are no writing desks or coffee tables because, Remedios says, “no one writes on desks anymore. They prefer to curl up on a couch with their laptops.”


The rooms are unabashedly lifestyle-oriented. Behind the modular sofa is a narrow ledge where guests can rest their drinks.

A table juts out from the wall next to the flat-screen TV so two people can share a snack.

The porcupine quill-like design lends a semblance of privacy for guests at Yi, the fine-dining Chinese restaurant at Morpheus.

Each room has wall-mounted touch-screen panels and tablets that control everything, from the air conditioning and the drapes to the TV and lighting. Fortunately, the interface is easy to understand.

The hotel will have a fine dining Chinese restaurant with an omakase-style menu, two restaurants by French chef Alain Ducasse (Alain Ducasse at Morpheus and Voyages) and the eponymously titled lounge by French patissier Pierre Herme, who was named World’s Best Pastry Chef at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards.

City of Dreams Manila’s vice president for public relations Charisse Chuidian and Melco Entertainment’s Debbie Chi at the Club Lounge.

Lawrence Ho, Melco Resorts’ chair and chief executive officer, at the press conference last week –PHOTOS BY RAOUL J. CHEE KEE

A ledge behind the sofa in the guest room is designed to hold drinks.

The two-tower structure was inspired by jade artifacts like these carved and pierced pieces.

The Pierre Hermé Lounge at the Morpheus lobby

The Pierre Hermé Lounge at the lobby mimics the design of the atrium.

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TAGS: aluminum cladding, Asia’s newest landmark, exoskeleton made of steel, Macau–Zaha Hadid, Morpheus
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