HONG KONG • A flamboyant new casino designed by the late Zaha Hadid opened in Macau yesterday, featuring futuristic curves and skeletal steel structures.
Rows of exposed elevators glide up and down the imposing lobby inside the US$1.1-billion (S$1.5 billion) Morpheus resort, a 42-storey addition to Macau's glitzy skyline named after the Greek god of dreams and developed by Melco International.
Iraqi-British Ms Hadid died in 2016, She was the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture. Her major works in China include the Guangzhou Opera House and a mega mall in Beijing.
In Singapore, her firm was responsible for d'Leedon, off Farrer Road.
For her first Macau project, finished posthumously, two tower blocks were merged using curvaceous bridges to create "voids" and allow as much light in as possible, Ms Viviana Muscettola of Zaha Hadid Architects said.
Describing the design as a "jump into the unknown", Ms Muscettola said the exterior ribbons of steel hold up the building and free up space inside by minimising the need for vertical columns.
Melco's chairman Lawrence Ho said he had "wanted to find the most iconic architect that can do something just insane" before the project started in 2013.
Semi-autonomous Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal. The resort's opening comes as Macau undergoes a renaissance of sorts, with gaming revenues rising after being hard hit by a graft crackdown launched by China's President Xi Jinping in 2012.
In response to the crackdown, casino giants launched a slew of new mega-resorts, offering everything from theme parks to luxury spas as they looked to attract more mass-market gamblers to compensate for the fall in high-rollers.
But Macau's financial authorities earlier this month issued a warning to financial institutions against illegal use of UnionPay cards as China cracks down on capital outflows.