Bangkok-based all(zone) designs ninth edition of Mpavilion in Melbourne

The Mpavilion aims to emphasise an ancient sovereignty, through a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

by Dhwani ShanghviPublished on : Nov 21, 2022

Initiated in 2014 by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, the MPavilion is conceptualised as a shared cultural laboratory in Queen Victoria Gardens, within the Melbourne Arts Precinct, an 1800 metre square public space, in the densely populated Southbank district of Melbourne. The Gardens lie at the eastern edge of the public-funded art district—which affords a diversity of spaces for art, learning, play, food, music, work, and shows—along the western bank of the Yarra river.

A fabric-based structure enhances the lightness of material | MPavilion| all(zone) | STIRworld
A fabric-based structure enhances the lightness of material Image: Courtesy of MPavilion 2022

The Queen Victoria Gardens itself constitutes a larger network of parks, gardens, and open spaces called Domain Parklands—which as stolen land of the people of the Eastern Kulin Nations has faced massive upheaval since the early 19th century, due to the occupation by British settlements. The consequent limitation of physical evidence of the Kulin people's collective past, creates a requisite, to prioritise the voice of the people of the First Nations. The park, now designated as being of State Significance and listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, has played a consistent host to the MPavilion, now in its ninth edition, and aims to emphasise this ancient sovereignty through a fuller expression of Australia's nationhood.

A bare minimum architecture forms connections with the dynamic movement of nature| MPavilion| all(zone) | STIRworld
A bare minimum architecture forms connections with the dynamic movement of nature Image: Courtesy of MPavilion 2022

Designed by Bangkok-based all(zone), the upcoming MPavilion 2022 implicitly manifests this idea of sovereignty through an architecture in its bare minimum form, and  simultaneously forms connections with the dynamic movement of nature. Conceptualised to "celebrate outdoor living", the ninth edition of the pavilion aims to reverse the confinement brought on by the lockdown through a structure that not only bears a transparent profile but is also temporary and light.

This lack of rigid surfaces and conventional materials results in a structure that manifests a play of light, and play in a space that strives to move beyond its role of a neutral weather protector. A combination of unconventional materials like fishing nets; and unconventional interpretations of conventional materials, thus challenges the idea of shelter and questions its role in a public space.

Leanne Zilka of the collaborator Zilka Studio explains thus: “The all(zone) MPavilion pushes material logic and expression beyond what we are familiar with in architecture. It is, in many ways, a counter-intuitive pavilion that is not made up of rigid surfaces or expected materials but fabrics that move and be active, in the creation of an environment for the public to enjoy.”

  • The site plan of the MPavilion 2022| MPavilion| all(zone) | STIRworld
    The site plan of the MPavilion 2022 Image: Courtesy of MPavilion 2022
  • The layer plan of the all(zone) MPavilion| MPavilion| all(zone) | STIRworld
    The layer plan of the all(zone) MPavilion Image: Courtesy of MPavilion 2022
  • The roof plan of the MPavilion| MPavilion| all(zone) | STIRworld
    The roof plan of the MPavilion Image: Courtesy of MPavilion 2022

The structure is composed of three layers—a fishing net roof lends the transparent profile to the roof, while an inner layer of colour fabric creates a loosely hung ceiling, and a central transparent membrane functions as a drain to expel rainwater. The structure is also informed by the prerequisite for a seamless relocation of the pavilion, to its permanent location after five months. The pavilion design thus fulfils two lifetimes—the first in the park, as a focused space for a free program season of cultural events, installations, talks, performances, and workshops; and the second in a public space as a community space of engagement, gifted to the city, by the foundation. In both its forms, the architecture pavilion addresses questions on the lifespan of architecture vis-à-vis ever-changing social conditions and expendable non-renewable resources.  

The all(zone) MPavilion pushes material logic and expression beyond what is familiar in architecture | MPavilion| all(zone) | STIRworld
The all(zone) MPavilion pushes material logic and expression beyond what is familiar in architecture Image: Courtesy of MPavilion 2022

Rachaporn Choochuey, the Design Director at all(zone) believes, “Our version of the MPavilion is a light structure, a minimum form of architecture to house the public life of the city while being lively, colourful, and fun. In a world where we encounter a shortage of resources and ever-changing social conditions, the lifespan of architecture should be reinvestigated and expanded to consider a wider range of materials and building methods. As life does not last forever, why should our buildings? The MPavilion intends to explore the aspect of architecture that could embrace a lighter and more casual spirit to become even more sustainable and engaging."

MPavilion is a civic space that engages its users in a design and architectural discourse | MPavilion| all(zone) | STIRworld
MPavilion is a civic space that engages its users in a design and architectural discourse Image: Courtesy of MPavilion 2022

The MPavilion is a civic space that engages its users in a design and architectural discourse. Over its eight editions, world-renowned architects have contributed towards creating an ecosystem that is conducive to accommodating a culturally inviting and physically safe space for its users. However, while the MPavilion website boasts of its aim to "prioritise and support the voices of First Nations peoples in the development of our program," the lack of indigenous representation in the list of participating architects is conspicuous in its absence, and restricted to a level of mere acknowledgement.

MPavilion 2022 will be open to the public from November 17, 2022.

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