Forest canopy inspired MPavilion launched in Melbourne

MPavilion photo by John GollingsA major international architecture commission and design collaboration was unveiled today in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens. MPavilion 2015 initiated by Naomi Milgrom Foundation is designed by AL_A, the studio of renowned British architect Amanda Levete.

The second groundbreaking MPavilion employs materials and technology developed for the aerospace industry to create a graceful ‘forest canopy’ of five and three metre-wide translucent petals supported on slender four metre-high columns. Each petal is just a few millimetres thick and the resulting ultra-lightweight structure sits lightly in the landscape and gently responds to the climate. The petals are fitted with LED lights that are activated at sunset to give a light performance synchronised with music.

The MPavilion 2015 was officially opened by Martin Roth, Director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and commemorated by a live performance by Yorta Yorta soprano Deborah Cheetham, overseen by MPavilion founder, Naomi Milgrom AO, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle and commissioned architect Amanda Levete of award-winning British architecture studio AL_A.

“Amanda’s MPavilion creates an elegant and magical architectural experience for all to enjoy,” says Naomi Milgrom AO, Chair of Naomi Milgrom Foundation. “MPavilion has set a precedent – its experimental and a thought-leader. It responds to its setting and transforms materials taking technology and innovation to new levels. A utopian space MPavilion will act as catalyst for the creative industry and the community to explore design’s role in contemporary culture.”

The MPavilion 2015 design employs recently developed composite construction methods, refined in collaboration with Australian specialist mouldCAM, to create a modular design that consists of 13 large and 30 small petals that respond to the environment, shivering in the wind, and creating a play of light and shade underneath.

The petals are supported by 95 carbon fibre columns that vary in height from 4 to 3 metres. Each column is fitted with a ring of LED lights that are activated in the dark and form a beautiful light performance synchronised with an evening soundscape in Queen Victoria Gardens every night.

“I’m delighted that the 2015 MPavilion can now be shared with the public,” said designer Amanda Levete. “Our Pavilion is a celebration of those natural shelters where we come together and we have achieved an exceptionally light, open structure that sits gently on the land and allows the light, the wind, and sometimes the rain, to form part of the show.”

“It is designed to provide a contemplative, personal experience as well as a place to congregate. I’m extremely grateful to Naomi Milgrom and the Foundation, not only for giving us the opportunity to push the boundaries of technology to create this experience, but also for donating it to the people of Melbourne.”

The MPavilion 2015 program of more than 200 free events including talks, films and gatherings exploring architecture, landscape and design, and has been created in collaboration with leading cultural organisations from around the world.

Every evening at sunset, during MPavilion’s presentation from October until February, the pavilion structure will create its own evening sunset ritual that is a collaboration between the architect, lighting designer Ben Cobham and sound artist Matthias Schack-Arnott of Speak Percussion.

For the second consecutive year, it is also the official design hub for the 2015 Melbourne Festival with a number of free performances and events presented onsite from Thursday 8 October until Sunday 25 October.

MPavilion is presented free to the public over four months from 6 October 2015 until 7 February 2016. For more information and complete program, visit: www.mpavilion.org for details.

Image: MPavilion 2015 – photo by John Gollings

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