MorpheusRebecca Lo • Photography by Virgile Simon Bertrand • September 5, 2018
Lawrence Ho has always dreamed big. The youngest child and only son of gaming tycoon Stanley Ho and his second wife Lucinda Laam, Ho’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment was one of six gaming concession recipients when the Macau government ended the elder Ho’s monopoly in 2001. Ho, for his part, has been diligently developing Macau’s City of Dreams integrated entertainment resort, which, along with featuring dining, shopping, casinos, and three other hotels, now welcomes the final piece to the sprawling puzzle: the 770-key Morpheus.
One of the late Pritzker Prize-winner Zaha Hadid’s final projects, this unusual hotel is quintessentially hers with a sensuous exoskeleton exterior made of aluminum-framed glass and a figure-eight central void that pushes and pulls upon interior spaces, taking most of the work from internal walls or columns. Atypical and unconventional in form, Viviana Muscettola, associate director at Zaha Hadid Architects’ London office, says the groundbreaking structure was actually practical: “The proposed volume maximized the number of hotel rooms with external views and created a series of special areas where bridges connected the circulation cores, which could be used for communal activities,” she states. “This sculptural form has an intriguing, mysterious allure because it makes no references to traditional architectural typologies.”
The sky bridges connect the hotel’s restaurant, lounges, and bars, while a swimming pool on the 40th level, designed by Long Beach, California-based Remedios Studio, which also handled the guestroom design, takes cues from the shape of a super yacht with polished stainless steel finishes that emphasize the building’s architecture, making “the pool area more cohesive with the building,” says firm president and managing principal Peter Remedios.
Inside, a white marble-clad lobby includes a sculptural reception area at one end and a geometric metallic screen that encloses the Pierre Hermé Lounge on the other. “The lounge was an add-on requested by Lawrence,” Muscettola notes. “It was intended to frame the café without losing the overall effect of the atrium space.” Large and small undulating aluminium pyramids make up the interior wall finish, designed to catch natural light from the atrium and refract it throughout. Twelve glass elevators, six on either side of the towering space, whisk guests up the two towers and are tinted red as a nod to the locale. “This was an intentional tribute to Chinese culture,” Muscettola reveals. “When viewed from the lift, the entire lobby gets this fantastic red hue.”
Two of the four existing restaurants (more to come when the casino is completed), from iconic French chef Alain Ducasse and designed by longtime collaborator Paris-based firm Jouin Manku, take a subtle, sophisticated approach. Meanwhile, Yi, situated on level 21, is more dramatic, inviting guests to dine in a series of pods scattered around a central white marble open cooking station. They “were an invention necessary to delineate an intimate dining space within the buoyant atrium,” explains Muscettola of the volume within a volume concept. The semitransparent screens covered with hundreds of metallic, leaf-like fins also regulate privacy, acoustics, thermal comfort, and external views. “Throughout the day, the pods shimmer playfully as sunlight bounces off the shifting leaves,” she says. “The choreography extends to the flooring through a parametrically derived carpet pattern accentuated by golden inlays.”
Upstairs, Remedios looked to Hadid’s geometric forms for his interpretation of the guestrooms, suites, three pool villas, and six duplex villas, which include lounges with an L-shaped sofa encircling a pair of mirrored hexagonal coffee tables above a black and white area rug reminiscent of Chinese landscapes. Mirrored ceilings framed with reflective backlit bookshelves and cove lighting cast a subtle golden glow upon the room. As he explains: “The design is based on hedonism—the pursuit of pleasure.”