At its most potent, design introduces functionality and innovation at one stroke. Architects, designers, and creative professionals work to solve practical problems with a measure of style that should surprise without distracting.

Few opportunities highlight these goals and present opportunities for architects and designers quite like entertainment and recreational spaces. Football stadiums like Allianz Arena tread the line between high design and mundane sports leagues. Theatres like the Sydney Opera House host major events while making an independent statement in composition and form.

When high design meets playtime, top architects can make a statement in a construction project that interacts with the public on an intimate level. From Macau to the rugged American southwest, top designers have made their mark on the entertainment world.

Morpheus Hotel

Macau, China (above)

Two years ago, Melco Resorts made headlines for their daring project, the Morpheus Hotel with its $1 billion-dollar price tag. The hotel was designed by Zaha Hadid. It features an exoskeleton frame rather than internal columns, as well as a slew of imaginative rooms, interactive art displays, and a state-of-the-art casino.

The price tag alone for the Morpheus may seem a bit disproportionate. While the hotel delivers on design and gaming opportunities, and more than a few extravagant art pieces, the billion-dollar project needs to compete with an online casino boom expected to triple in the coming decade.

From bingo or blackjack, visitors to Macau’s Morpheus Hotel won’t be hard-pressed to find competitive deals for online play—which means Melco Resorts’ effort to make their casino stand out was a much-needed push from executives.

The Jupe

USA

What happens when leading SpaceX, Tesla, and Airbnb employees come together to create a mobile shelter? The Jupe. Designed to provide consumers with an out-of-this-world experience with a mobile shelter that can be deposited into even the sparsest landscapes, Jupe is a truly innovative take on ‘traveling light’.

With no need for electric grids, the doubled-masted shelters are ready to pop up on their chassis foundations wherever owners choose to travel. While the Jupe packs all the amenities and benefits of RVs and campervans, the design looks more like an interstellar space pod.

But with an 11-foot mast, the 111-square foot mobile shelter doesn’t feel cramped. The imaginative design combined with practical and efficient construction materials means the small space makes a big impact.

What’s unique about Jupe’s design is based on its goal: to bring sustainability to mobile architecture. The company’s target demographic consists of landowners looking to offer short-term rentals or looking to use their space without plumbing and electricity connections.

 High Design Meets PlaytimeGiorgi Khmaladze’s McDonald’s in Batumi, Georgia.

McDonald’s

Batumi, Georgia

Though winding up at a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant may not seem like playtime, the team employed by award-winning architect Giorgi Khmaladze certainly had fun designing the world’s most austere takeaway location.

Khmaladze’s glass structure features bold edges and a polyhedral structure that’s accentuated by the pool that surrounds the building. His efforts helped him earn the ArchDaily 2014 award for Best Commercial Building—even though it’s used to serve up Big Macs.

In a unique feat, Khmaladze also made his structure functional for the gas station that operates beneath the McDonald’s. That’s right—Khmaladze managed to wed high design with fast food and pump-yourself petrol.

Within his design, Khmaladze included slope gardens that add an element of serenity to the geometric glass structure. The grass knoll, combined with the reflective pool outside, recreates a fine-dining experience that subverts the presence of the nearby gas station, as well as the surrounding metropolis of Batumi, which is known as the ‘Las Vegas of the Black Sea’.

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