MPavilion: Open Sesame!

MPavilion has proved a hit with Melbournians, bringing engaging architecture to the people

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

Each morning at 8am MPavilion unfurls like a flower seeking the sun. The dreamy dawn opening ceremony rewards early birds in Melbourne, where it has taken root in the Southbank’s Queen Victoria Gardens.

Launched last October, this alluring architectural structure is the first in a four-year series initiated by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, which will see a different outstanding architect commissioned to create a pavilion in the Gardens each year. 2014’s debut pavilion was designed by Melbourne architect Sean Godsell, whose past work includes the city’s RMIT Design Hub, a prototype Future Shack and a radical St Andrews Beach House on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.

BELOW: Part translucent treasure box, part flower, MPavilion opens and closes daily; The kinetic steel structure incorporates a fully automated outer skin

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Sean Godsell Architects’s MPavilion is a simple 12 x 12 metre steel structure with a glazed roof and fully automated outer skin, providing shelter, shade and filtering the strong sun. It takes inspiration from the country’s outback, says Godsell, where ‘hay sheds and barns, shearers’ sheds and verandas are Australia’s meeting rooms and community centres. They are potent places.’

A first for the city, MPavilion forms a sociable clubhouse for fans of design, architecture and culture to gather, hosting a free four-month programme of events, including workshops, talks, walks, performances and installations. It’ll be running until 1 February, so there's still time to get in on the action.

Swing by for the morning opening ritual, accompanied by a soundscape by DJ Geoff Nees in collaboration with composer/sound designer J David Franzke, then pick up a cappuccino and pastry from the Everyday Coffee Kiosk. Weekday lunchtimes feature a 15-minute exploration of The Australian Ugliness at 12pm-12.15pm, with contemporary architects reading from Robin Boyd's seminal book. Friday sunset sessions, from 5pm-9pm, bring rotating DJs, beer and wine to the party.

BELOW: Inside, the airy, wood-floored space hosts a café and events space

MPavilion takes its cue from London's influential Serpentine Pavilions, designed to promote modern architecture. Each year the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park commissions a summer pavilion by a major talent yet to build in the UK. The result has seen 14 stellar creations, including those of Toyo Ito, Oscar Niemeyer, Olafur EliassonJean NouvelPeter Zumthor and Sou Fujimoto, with inspiring cultural activities to match. We're sure Melbourne's latest architectural flower will also prove a hardy perennial...
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MPavilion is open daily until 1 February 2015, opposite the Arts Centre on St Kilda Road, Melbourne 
Photos by Earl Carter