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MPavilion 2015

The 2015 MPavilion designed by British practice Amanda Levete Architects has opened in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens, opposite the city’s cultural hub of the The Arts Centre, the National Gallery of Victoria. A unique annual architecture commission and design event for Melbourne. The canopy be a series of three and five-meter wide petals made out of ultra-thin, translucent CFRP composites, translucent petals supported by impossibly slender columns that sway gently in the breeze.

MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-03-John-Gollings-800x1200 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© John Gollings

mouldCAM to use boundary‐pushing technology of composite materials to form petals that are five metres in diameter but only a few millimetres thick. Under the canopy during the day, the light will be dappled and dreamy. At night, MPavilion will have a glowing aura.

MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-05-John-Gollings-759x506 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© John Gollings

“It’s an honour to have been commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation to design the second edition of the MPavilion. I’ve visited Australia three times in the past six years and without doubt Melbourne is my favourite city. I’ve always met a diverse and interesting group of friendly, welcoming people. It’s people that make a city creative – and that’s why I love Melbourne. The brief is a great opportunity to design a structure that responds to the climate and the landscape. I wanted to exploit the temporary nature of the pavilion form and produce a design that speaks in response to the weather. Rooting the pavilion in its parkland setting, I looked to create the sensation of a forest canopy in the heart of the city that gives shelter to a programme of events. We have a long history of working with boat builders and Australia has some of the finest. We’re working with a yacht fabricator to employ the boundary-pushing technology of composite materials to create the canopy, which is made up by a number of seemingly fragile, translucent petals supported by impossibly slender columns that gently sway in the breeze.” – Architect’s Statement / Amanda Levete

MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-07-John-Gollings-759x711 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© John Gollings

Designed to invoke the “sensation of a forest canopy,” the pavilion appears as if it has sprouted from the garden’s lawn. It was officially opened by Martin Roth, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, who described it as “welcoming the spring.” “When spring comes back to life in the landscape in the city, that’s exactly what happens today with the pavilion,” he said.

MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-08-John-Gollings-759x520 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© John Gollings


MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-09-Kane-Jarrod-759x578 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© Kane Jarrod

  • There are 43 “petals” – 13 with five-metre spans and 30 with three-metre spans – supported by 95 slender columns. The challenge led the design team to explore composite materials not ordinarily used in construction.
  • “The bold design fits the brief to make the pavilion a risk-taking and experimental structure,” said Roth.
  • The columns are made of carbon fibre tubes developed in Finland for camera tripods. It creates an extremely lightweight structural system that sits gently in the landscape.
  • The 2015 MPavilion designed by Amanda Levete creates a pattern of shadows on the ground. The “petals,” each three millimetres thin, consist of a resin developed for surfboards made by Queensland-based fabricator MouldCam.
  • Fibres were added to the clear resin to make it translucent enough to simultaneously cast patterns of shadow on the ground and allow dappled light through.
  • The “petals” are reinforced with carbon fibre strands, expressed as a filigree pattern of veins.
MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-12-Kane-Jarrod-759x948 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© Kane Jarrod

Lord Mayor of Melbourne Robert Doyle said the pavilion “blends in to this very beautiful environment and, of course, this is the perfect place for the MPavilion, but it also adapts to it in quite a remarkable way.”

The 2015 MPavilion is open until 7 February 2016 after which it will be gifted to Melbourne and moved to a permanent location.

The MPavilion is the product of an Anglo-Australian collaboration led by AL_A, working with Arup’s London and Melbourne offices, alongside MouldCam and Kane Construction. The MPavilion will be curated by xxxx and feature a series of talks, music performances, bedtime stories, as well as having a café/bar.

MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-14-Kane-Jarrod-759x904 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© Kane Jarrod

AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects:

AL_A have been commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation to design the second edition of the MPavilion in Melbourne for 2015/16.

The Pavilion, rooted within the natural landscape of the Queen Victoria Gardens, has been designed to create the sensation of a forest canopy. A dematerialised structure that feels more akin to its natural surroundings than to a building, it gives shelter for a programme of events.

MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-16-John-Gollings-759x929 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© John Gollings

The canopy is made up by a number of seemingly fragile, translucent petals. The petals are supported by impossibly slender columns that gently sway in the breeze. Exploiting the temporary nature of the pavilion form, our design subverts the norms of immovable and immutable buildings. It embraces and amplifies such distinctions, so that it speaks in response to the weather, and moves with the wind rather than trying to keep it at bay.

Employing the aesthetic and technology of hi-tech nautical engineering, the 3m and 5m diameter petals, which are only 3mm thick, are formed of ultra-thin translucent composite and carbon fibre, developed with an Australian boat specialist. Each petal is formed by a carbon fibre weave, interlacing structure and aesthetic together to form the pattern that falls as shadow on the floor. Reinforcement is embedded into the surface of the borderless petal, rather than as an encircling frame.

MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-19-John-Gollings-759x971 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© John Gollings

Complexity increases through repetition, using two sizes of petals to create multiple configurations. At the centre, the petals tightly cluster and are layered to give a continuous shingled surface. As the Pavilion fades out into the parkland, the size and number of spaces increase until the trees themselves take over the Pavilion’s role and the structure dissolves.

The slender carbon fibre columns conceal the wiring of lights and speakers. A halo-like effect is created by an LED strip forming the capital to the column, while pioneering technology turns the petals themselves into amplifiers. From surrounding high-rises, the Pavilion will have a glowing aura and particular presence in the otherwise darkened garden at night.

MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-20-John-Gollings-759x506 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© John Gollings

Visitors approach from all directions, barely perceiving the distinction between tree canopy and Pavilion, aided by a smooth transition from grass to timber deck on the same level. Flowerbeds arrayed around the edge subtly define the entrances that visitors can filter in and out through.

Inside, the performance space is oriented to provide a backdrop of the jagged urban skyline to the north or the delicately layered treeline to the east. The slender columns are arranged on a 4m x 4m grid at the centre to afford a generous event space.

MPavilion-2015-By-AL_A-Amanda-Levete-Architects-21-John-Gollings-759x506 MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects

© John Gollings

Project Data:

Project name: MPavilion
Location: Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne, Australia
Coordinates: -37.821835, 144.970465
Type: Pavilion, Installation
Status: Built
Cost: $1.2 million Lump Sum
Opening Period: Tue 6 Oct 2015 – Sun 7 Feb 2016
Visit MPavilion’s website: here

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Naomi Milgrom Foundation
Architects: AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects – 14A Brewery Road, London N7 9NH, United Kingdom
Principal: Amanda Levete
Project Director: Maximiliano Arrocet
Project Team: Ho-Yin Ng, Alice Dietsch, Alex Bulygin, Filippo Previtali, Giulio Pellizzon
Text Description: © Courtesy of AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects, Kane Construction, MPavilion
Images: © AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects, John GollingsKane Jarrod

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MPavilion 2015 / AL_A-Amanda Levete Architects
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