3D Dragon Gates: New Twist on Coastal Feng Shui by Zaha Hadid Architects

A new building has sprouted up in Macau that innovates in three dimensions on a form often found across the delta in Hong Kong: rectilinear boxes with central linear voids, a classic feng shui strategy to allow dragons to pass from the mountains down to the sea. But there is more than fantastical tradition to this approach: interior windows mean more natural light access and views for visitors, too.

When designers from Zaha Hadid Architects (images by Ivan Dupont and Virgile Simon Bertrand) came to the project, the base had already been built, forcing them into a rectangular configuration — above, however, they broke free, carving into the cubic shape with warps and curves.

The Morpheus Hotel boasts the world’s first free-form high-rise exoskeleton — its external steel grid provides support, freeing up interior spaces from structural walls and columns.

The bends, twists and openings resulting from this lively pattern were situated to provide strategic views of the surrounding city and coast.

“Morpheus combines its optimal arrangement with structural integrity and sculptural form,” said Viviana Muscettola, ZHA’s project director. “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.”