Innovation Award of Excellence: Parametric Digital Strategy for Morpheus

Bianca Cheung
Zaha Hadid Architects, Hong Kong

Wolf Mangelsdorf
BuroHappold Engineering, New York City

Organic Shapes, Driven by Digital Design

Building the Morpheus Hotel, Macau, required a highly sophisticated digital strategy that integrated the project’s complex design and construction logistics. The main challenges were the complexity of its freeform geometry and irregular diagrid exoskeleton, the sheer quantity of construction elements and their interconnections. Further layers of complexity were added by the building’s height, its elaborate program, the compressed timeframe and the global spread of its procurement and production network, involving multiple disciplines and four façade contractors. The digital strategy was thoroughly parametric, precise, and above all, highly automated and fast. It also facilitated backtracking, enabling previously explored options and geometry to be revisited.

Morpheus required a very specific form of BIM rather than a centralized single platform model straight out of the box. Instead, it used a network of interlinked Rhinoceros models enhanced by the Grasshopper algorithmic plug-in. The team also created bespoke scripts for Rhinoceros and Grasshopper - transcending conventional parametric modeling by using algorithmic computational design for the iterative exploration of multiple options. This approach used codes and the cloud to accelerate iterative design. The entire digital edifice, with its dynamic network of models and geometry, was built from scratch.