Morpheus Hotel · Macau, China

Located in the City of Dreams resort on the Southern Coast of China, the extravagant Morpheus Hotel is the world’s first free-form exoskeleton high-rise. It’s described as an impossible building structure—the innovative design has a twisting geometric facade that almost resembles a double-helix.

London-based firm Zaha Hadid Architects designed the hotel, concept, and name. Derived from Greek mythology, Morpheus means the god of dreams, and Morphe, the shapes seen in dreams. The architects used the existing foundations to design the unique rippling facade, which is formed from two circulation cores connected at the base via a podium, which separate, and then merge again at the top of the building. The interior spaces are undisturbed by the usual supporting walls or columns that hold up a building of such stature, making the visual aesthetic all the more impressive. The design is informed by Chinese jade carving techniques, which produce the curved smooth forms on the traditional statues from hard minerals. Project director Viviana Muscettola explains that “Morpheus has evolved from its unique environment and site conditions as a new architecture, expressly of this city.”

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