by Devanshi ShahJan 17, 2022
The sublime and philosophical power of Japanese architect Tadao Ando stems from his noble, almost spiritual use of one single material—concrete—fashioned into forms that are dazzlingly unadorned, and poetic in their being. From the meditative 'Church of the Light' to the hypogeal 'Chichu Art Museum,' Ando’s thorough mastery of light and lightness is well known, witnessed in his arresting geometric interventions in nature as well as his precise, assured use of, and affinity for cast-in-place concrete.
In 2023, the Pritzker Prize-winning architect and one of Japan’s leading contemporary architects will design the MPavilion, an annual architecture commission and Australia's leading one, chosen by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation. The latest and the tenth overall edition of the MPavilion in Queen Victoria Gardens, located in the heart of Melbourne’s city centre, will also mark Ando’s first project in Australia.
"MPavilion is where conversations happen about how architecture, design and art can change people's lives, in Australia and around the world,” the organisers relay. Since its inception in 2014, MPavilion has invited significant architectural thinkers from Australia as well as from around the world, 'to extend their practices in exciting, experimental directions,' and 'to create a space for engagement with urgent urban, civic, and design concerns' through remarkable pavilion designs conceived by Melbourne’s Sean Godsell Architects (MPavilion 2014), Australian architect Glenn Murcutt (2019), Italian architects Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel of MAP Studio (2021).
"The MPavilion project is one of the only design commissions in the world that gives architects the freedom to really experiment and take risks to create extraordinary work,” shares the design director of all(zone), Rachaporn Choochuey, who designed the MPavilion 9 (2022) which is currently open to the public through April 6, 2023.
The design event has since welcomed over 967,500 visitors, who have attended 3,548 events generated in collaboration with more than 4,000 individuals and organisations. 'Open and democratic,' the annual initiative is an ever-evolving 'cultural laboratory' that invites everyone to engage with its colourful program of free events during a five-month-long design festival.
Ando will be the seventh leading international architect to have his first work in Australia commissioned by MPavilion. “Year on year, the number of collaborations is a testament to the strength of Melbourne’s capabilities as one of the world’s centres of design creativity and expertise that such an engaging diversity of activities and ideas has become a hallmark of the MPavilion design program,” they continue.
The design for the MPavilion began with a desire to find a scene of eternity within the public gardens of the Queen Victoria Gardens in Melbourne. Eternal, not in material or structure, but in the memory of a landscape that will continue to live in people’s hearts. – Tadao Ando
Born in 1941 in Osaka, Japan, the heavily awarded, self-taught architect established his eponymous firm, Tadao Ando Architect & Associates in 1969. His notable works include the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (2001; St. Louis, USA), 21-21 Design Sight (2007; Tokyo, Japan), and Bourse de Commerce—Pinault Collection (2020: Paris, France). Ando also boasts of an extensive career in architecture education, having taught as a visiting professor at Yale University, Columbia University, and Harvard University, and in 1997, became a Professor at the University of Tokyo.
"Each year, MPavilion commissions architects with a unique design language and social purpose and gives them complete freedom to realise their vision. I have long admired how Tadao Ando responds to and incorporates the particularity of a place into his design and his belief that architecture can shape a society. As the MPavilion prepares for the 10th edition, we look forward to sharing Ando’s work in Australia for the very first time and having his MPavilion become a vital site in the cultural and community life of Melbourne," remarked Naomi Milgrom AC, Founder of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, and an Australian business leader, fashion entrepreneur, philanthropist, and arts patron with an international reputation for initiating and supporting cultural innovation.
At the end of each MPavilion season, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation gifts the pavilion to the people of Victoria and relocates it to a new, permanent, public home in the community—the Netherlands-based OMA’s design for the MPavilion 2017 was relocated to the Monash University Clayton while India-based Studio Mumbai’s MPavilion 2016 now resides in the Melbourne Zoo.
Supported by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, the City of Melbourne, and the Victorian State Government through Creative Victoria, MPavilion will continue its festival of free public programmes involving talks, lectures, music performances, and kid-friendly workshops among other design-focused events. The 2023 themes will be informed by Ando's practice and announced in the months to come.
Details of Tadao Ando's design for the MPavilion10 were revealed in May 2023, and it will open to the public on November 16, 2023.