MB Jan | Morpheus, a new monument | News to read in 2018. Or not

When Steve Wynn opened his Wynn Palace on COTAI he claimed it was “the world’s most beautiful hotel”. It may well be but it is relatively consensual that COTAI, despite the billions expended, is not particularly distinguished by its architecture. As president of the International Council of Portuguese Language Architects (CIALP), Rui Leão, tells Macau Business, the COTAI Strip “is dominated by manifestations of macro-Disneylandism, a form of consumeristic infantilism, which is how neo-liberalism designates architecture, ordering the easiest objects for visual consumption, offering nothing to dream [of], grow and evolve”. 

Another Macau architect, Vizeu Pinheiro, like Rui Leão an academic, completes, finding in COTAI a “catalogue of buildings, imported or adapted and distributed in a patchwork.” 

The inauguration of the Morpheus tower / hotel is “a sign of hope for Macau” 

The inauguration of the Morpheus tower / hotel in a few months (by late Spring, according to official information) is, finally, a sign of hope of a new paradigm, “a sign of hope for Macau: so that architecture can be found in the capital of casinos, and that architecture can survive and co-exist with the hyper-consumerism of the gaming,” adds Leão. 

“It is a new monument for Macau in the 21st Century, to be added to Macau’s rich history and many monuments. Only time will be able to tell us if it will become an Ex Libris. I do believe that it will be in the memory of those who visit Macau, as much as it will be part of the daily life of the Macanese and it will be in the dreams of those who may wish to see Macau. And for that, Zaha would be smiling!” Cristina Veríssimo, an architect who worked for three and a half years with Zaha Hadid in London, tells Macau Business 

“Zaha’s work has always been able to present us with the ability to make us wonder.  A wonder mixed with a sense of astonishment and curiosity,” says Ms. Veríssimo, currently working in Canada. “One could say that some people love it and probably some others may not so much, but no-one stays indifferent to such work. As an architect, I believe Zaha left us with a particular vision towards architecture that one can recognise in many of her buildings around the world. As Zaha’s friend and former collaborator, I kept many lessons of the years I worked in her office”. 

Rui Leão reserves a more complete opinion for the moment he visits the interior of the work, but the visiting lecturer of the Faculty of Urban Management and Studies, City University of Macau, comments to Macau Business on what is, in his opinion, the greatest construct of the work of Ms. Hadid.  

Not one of “the most photogenic buildings produced by Zaha Hadid’s atelier,” Morpheus’ main innovation is to be an exoskeleton structure, something not previously experienced on this scale and why the building has an exorbitant budget. research and innovation costs, and it is good to see Macau’s investors contribute to global investment”. 

How can this billion dollar Melco investment in one single building help the company? Ben Lee, a Macau-based gaming expert and managing partner of IGamiX, tells Macau Business: “I don’t think Morpheus hotel will be a Petronas twin tower must-see icon; however, it is unique in its design, which stands out against all the other cookie cutter hotel towers”. 

Ben Lee recalls a recent comment by China Market Research Group, backed by survey reports from hotels.com, that “strongly indicate that China outbound travellers are now looking for unique experiences and boutique hotels with themes, so Morpheus would fit nicely into this new paradigm”. 

Exoskeleton steel structure 

Morpheus is to be a new flagship hotel for the City of Dreams complex. “The new hotel is an unprecedented combination of structural and formal challenges to resolve a highly complex and articulated variety of uses within one coherent building envelope. Morpheus is designed to satisfy the dreams of tomorrow’s most sophisticated international travellers,” says Melco. 

The hotel and casino building “is the world’s first high-rise building supported by a free-form exoskeleton steel structure to house a mix of different facilities within one cohesive edifice featuring two sky bridges, five different glazing systems and a non-repetitive doubly-curved aluminium cladding.” 

The two towers connected at their podium and roof levels “create an extruded rectangle carved by a series of voids,” adds the Hadid atelier. 

The 40-storey Morpheus Hotel accommodates almost 800 guestrooms, suites and sky villas plus a wide variety of event facilities, gaming rooms, lobby atrium, restaurants, spa and sky pool, as well as extensive back-of-house areas and supporting facilities.  

Melco Resorts CEO Lawrence Ho said some months ago that he has no plans to bet on the VIP segment once it opens, preferring to think that “the long-term development of the market will continue to be based upon premium mass.” 

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