Words by Staff Writer
The tranquil architectural gem will officially open to the public on November 16 for five months of free events and mini-festivals.
MPavilion, the flagship initiative of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, opens its milestone MPavilion 10, designed by internationally renowned, Pritzker Prize-winner Tadao Ando, in Queen Victoria Gardens on 16 November.
Ando’s design for MPavilion 10—his first ever project in Australia—reflects his signature use of striking geometric interventions in nature and his precise, assured use of concrete. The opening kicks off the five-month design festival of public programming offering over 150 events.
Every event is free. MPavilion, which first began in 2014, has grown to become one of Australia’s most visited and impactful festivals, attracting more than 350,000 people during its ninth season.
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“There is a magic moment each season when an architectural vision becomes built reality, and when we welcome the public who gets to engage directly with the innovative space created by inspired architects,” said Naomi Milgrom AC, MPavilion Commissioner. “Tadao Ando has designed a new, iconic destination in Melbourne, one that will serve as both a contemplative spot, a temporary refuge from the bustle of the city, and as a dynamic site for creative discovery and vigorous discussion for those attending our public program.”
Positioned within Melbourne’s cultural and botanic garden precinct, MPavilion 10 offers a memorable structure that is in dialogue with the park setting to create a space in harmony with nature. MPavilion 10 features a large canopy, a 14.4-metre aluminum-clad disc resting on a central concrete column.Two offset squares create two entrances that lead to the centre of the pavilion. Concrete walls of varying lengths partially enclose the space to create a tranquil sanctuary reminiscent of a traditional Japanese walled garden. A long (16,800mm x 225mm) horizontal opening running both the length of the north and south walls frames views of downtown Melbourne and the parklands, connecting the city and lush greenery of Queen Victoria Gardens to MPavilion 10’s interior. The geometric forms and symmetry are reinforced by an internal arrangement that is half paved, and half reflecting pool, which mirrors the pavilion canopy, sky, city, and surrounding nature.
“I am honoured to have completed my first project in Australia, and to have created a piece of living architecture that will have such an important role in the cultural life of Melbourne this summer,” said Tadao Ando, architect of MPavilion 10. “I hope that as people visit, they allow this space to enter their hearts, and allow their senses to tune into the light and breeze interacting with them and this space. I hope for them an experience of harmony with nature, with themselves, and with others.”
MPavilion 10 officially opens the evening of 16 November with a public celebration, including a Smoking Ceremony, Joint Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Elder Uncle Dave Wandin and Boon Wurrung Elder N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM, and remarks by Commissioner of MPavilion Naomi Milgrom AC and others. Distinguished Yorta Yorta soprano and composer Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO’s tenth song of the Wominjeka Song Cycle will be performed by the Dhungala Children’s Choir. The evening will also feature performances by Australia’s leading taiko ensemble Taikoz.
The opening weekend kicks off a number of creative responses to Ando’s MPavilion. Visitors will be able to borrow a unique quilt created from the MPavilion Quilt Challenge, a collaboration between MPavilion, Melbourne Modern Quilters Guild and Studio Ongarato. Each quilt interprets a set of instructions inspired by Ando’s architecture. Designer Thomas Pavitte offers Geometry in Perspective that encourages visitors to view and appreciate the architecture and surroundings through ‘window’ cutouts to frame and capture views for social media.
Inside the pavilion, Brazilian artist João Loureiro introduces MPavilion visitors to the taste sensation of grey ice cream through his art installation Escala de Cinzas (Greyscale), made locally in collaboration with Piccolina Gelateria to perfectly mirror the pavilion’s aesthetic.
The opening weekend concludes on Sunday with a fashion moment with a twist. ALPHA60, the inaugural Uniform Commission recipient in 2014, returns with a celebration that fuses fashion, puppetry and performances, in collaboration with Snuff Puppets and Amber McCartney — a most Melburnian welcome to Tadao Ando’s first Australian work.
As always, commissions lie at the heart of MPavilion’s programming. Since the first edition in 2014, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation has selected extraordinary architects, artists, creatives and designers to produce new works for each season. Using the pavilions as inspiration, MPavilion’s commissions create a cohesive designed environment, adding to the rich conversations taking place across the season. For its tenth anniversary, MPavilion has selected ten creatives and artists to create new works marking this milestone season:
Chair Commission: Davidov Architects
Melbourne-based Davidov Architects, with a team comprised of Wendy Chen, Robert Davidov and Ben Schmideg, have created the MPavilion 10 Chair, available for all to use during the Festival. Titled Circle | Square, the lightweight durable square responds to Ando’s spatial purity and use of circles and squares in the design of the Pavilion.
Uniform Commission: DNJ Paper
Led by fashion designers Daphne Mohajer va Pesaran and Jake Nakashima-Edwards, the collaborative research project and micro-label is known for their paper clothing and have designed a work uniform inspired by a Japanese-style work jacket called a samue.Worn by MPavilion attendants throughout the season, the uniform is composed of a jacket made of green linen with a pink paper vest, made from one large sheet of paper, worn on top.
Music Commission: Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO (November 2023)
A continuous thread across the decade, visitors will hear the tenth song of the Wominjeka Song Cycle, composed by distinguished Yorta Yorta soprano and composer Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO in collaboration with Yaluk-ut Weelam and Boon Wurrung elder N’arweet Carolyn Briggs AM. Each song sonically represents a particular pavilion, and the full cycle celebrates an enduring yet dynamic place and the knowledge we share and create in it.
Food Commission: Minako Asai (November – December 2023)
Expanding the horizons of design, Japanese wagashi maker Minako Asai introduces visitors to these beloved Japanese sweets. Asai’s edible creations are works of art inspired by nature through the seasons.
Writing Commission: Michael Gentle (November – December 2023)
Nyoongar man, writer and curator Michael Gentle will describe the ephemeral and unearth the invisible. Stationed at MPavilion 10 for the duration of his commission, he will conjure a written record of what the pavilion entails.Working in an iterative approach, Michael’s work will be presented in a physical format at MPavilion 10 and shared digitally to a wider audience.
Children’s Commission: PolyglotTheatre (January 2024)
Expanding on a long-standing collaboration with Polyglot Theatre, MPavilion has commissioned the company to create a family-friendly installation. With FLOAT, Polyglot Theatre will invite children aged 3–8 years and their families to make boats using leaves, then float them in the pavilion’s reflecting pool. A live musician will improvise as the boats bob and drift.
Unity Lab Commission: Ilianna Ginnis (January 2024)
Ilianna Ginnis will bring her activism, creativity and research to MPavilion with a week-long program creating rich experiences for non-verbal communicators. The program will feature family- friendly installations, workshops and an all-inclusive party.
Craft & Design Commission 1: Qaymi Arts and Craft (February 2024)
Qaymi Arts and Craft will bring their ancestral Somali weaving techniques to MPavilion and invite audiences to co-create a collaborative artwork during a week-long workshop. The result: a large- scale installation comprised of natural materials such as grass, bamboo and recycled fabric sourced in Melbourne.
Craft & Design Commission 2:Yoko Ozawa (March 2024)
Japanese ceramicist Yoko Ozawa will create an in-situ installation that seeks to adapt the Zen garden to the Australian context. The installation will change daily during the week-long residency and connect with the Queen Victoria Gardens surrounding the pavilion.
Photography Commission: John Gollings AM (March 2024)
Australia’s most respected architectural photographer and MPavilion 10 commissioned artist John Gollings AM will share his world view, leading two unique workshops – at dusk and dawn – on the craft, using the pavilion as a model. He will also produce a series of images of MPavilion, capturing the design for perpetuity.