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Gallery | BuroHappold completes Morpheus hotel

BuroHappold has completed the 40-storey high Morpheus hotel in Macau, China which features a complex geometry exoskeleton structure.

The consultant carried out both the structural and façade engineering on the project which was designed by Zaha Hadid Architect.

To design the complex building the team created a bespoke computational approach using application programming interface (API) techniques. This allowed it to efficiently process the huge number of FE (finite element) models required and visualise in 3D every connection throughout.

The tower is supported by two cores, one in each side of the tower, a row of internal columns near the core and a complex geometric exoskeleton of steel beams and columns around its perimeter. In total, 2,500 exoskeletal nodes had to be designed and constructed.

Each composite steel and concrete floor plate is supported by steel stub beams which extend 600mm through the façade to a node point on the exoskeleton.

BuroHappold partner Wolf Mangelsdorf said making sure each of the floor levels noded out at key points on the external steelwork was a key part of its design.

“That was the geometrical trickery that we played. We ensured that when went through the geometry with the architect the structure nodes out. As much as it may look random, we have managed to node it out at the key points.

“The crossing points of the vertical structure always nodes out at the floor levels and quite a lot of work went into that. There was a long period of time where we exchanged with Zaha, grasshopper scripts of the structure, which was parametrically described, until the aesthetics and structural action came together.”

He said normally welding on site would be avoided, and most connections in the flat sections of the tower were bolted, but in central section welding the connections for the doubly curved sections was the only option.

“In the central sections, the joints are not planar and come together at different angles,” he said. “Bolting was not an option so we worked with the contractor and decided to site weld the connections. It worked out well as a little bit of tolerance can be taken up in the weld as well.”

One of the biggest challenges he says was the erection of the central connecting sections. He said the erection of the lattice tubes required a complex construction sequence to be worked out with Buro Happold taking on the design of all of the connections.

“We designed the connections through a computational workflow and grouped them and a way in which was rational. Because we designed them, we were then able to put them into the sequencing analysis and feed it back into the models.”

Each of the 29 stages or propping and depropping had to be analysed to work out the potential locked in stresses in the members which could impact on the permanent design case.

The structure also has been designed to resist the region’s typhoon wind climate, seismic design requirements, and complex load paths and irregular geometry.

Project Team

Client: Melco Resorts and Entertainment

Architect: Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA)

Structural Engineering: Buro Happold International, London/Hong Kong

Mechanical and Electrical Engineering: J. Roger Preston

Facade Engineering: Buro Happold International, Hong Kong

Fire Engineering: Arup, Hong Kong

Main Contractor: Dragages Macau, Hong Kong (a member of the Bouygues Construction Group)


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