MPavilion 2016

Indian architect Bijoy Jain brings handmade bamboo architecture to Melbourne's latest MPavilion


Melbourne's MPavilion series of temporary pavilions is always inspiring, with 2016's offering by Indian architect Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai demonstrating that there is still a place for natural materials in the 21st century. Formed from seven kilometres of bamboo, 26 kilometres of rope and 50 tonnes of stone, the 16.8 metre square summer pavilion represents traditional craft. 'I want it to be a symbol of the elemental nature of communal structures,' says Jain, 'A space to discover the essentials of the world and of one's self.'

ABOVE AND TOP: 2016's MPavilion in Melbourne is formed from sleek bamboo, rope and stone, with an adjacent entrance tower

Launched this October by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, the pavilion is in Queen Victoria Gardens opposite NGV International. Check out the space while enjoying coffee by Three Thousand Thieves (daily, 9am–4pm), or take part in the free four-month programme of events, which spans design and architecture workshops and talks, live music and DJs, yoga and installations, films and fashion shows, kids' activities, dog walks and even a zombie dance class.

ABOVE FROM TOP: An opening in the square pavilion roof connects earth and sky; below it a golden well celebrates water within the paved, airy interior

In contrast to the contemporary, high-tech visions of the previous two annual pavilions – by Sean Godsell and Amanda Levete of AL_A – Studio Mumbai's calming, low-fi structure is part of an international movement championing handmade, human-centred architecture. Jain believes in 'lore', a body of traditional knowledge passed on by word of mouth. At Studio Mumbai this translates into working collaboratively with local artisans and craftspeople to design and build projects though an explorative, creative process. The result harnesses generations-old skills, building techniques and materials, and the ingenuity that arises from working with limited resources. The studio also aims to reflect each location, here the natural park setting, producing architecture 'that contains the life of its environment.'

ABOVE: Models and sketches contributed to the design development

Set on a bluestone floor, sourced from Victoria's Port Fairy, MPavilion features an opening in the centre of its roof to connect earth to sky. Below it sits a golden well symbolising water's vital status. Bamboo poles from India are pegged with wooden pins and lashed together with rope. Slatted roof panels hail from the karvi plant, with sticks woven together by Indian craftspeople. Beside the pavilion a 12-metre-high 'tazia' entrance tower, used in Indian ceremonies, provides a dynamic welcome. Lighting by Ben Cobham of Bluebottle transforms the pavilion at twilight in sync with a soundscape by artists Geoff Nees and J David Franzke.

ABOVE: Naomi Milgrom commissioned Indian architect Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai to create 2016's MPavilion

Popular throughout Asia as a building material, bamboo is still widely used as scaffolding even in cutting-edge cities such as Hong Kong. Earlier on the Fizz we shared Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia's 'Green Ladder' bamboo installation, still on show at Sydney's Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, inspired by the eco-friendly potential of this 'green steel'. Ilse Crawford's 2016 'Viktigt' collection for IKEA also celebrated bamboo as a flexible, eco-chic material for furniture and homewares. 2016's MPavilion proves nature and architecture can walk hand in hand – the perfect match for summer...
MPavilion is at Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne until 18 February 2017

Pictures: John Gollings; models and sketches, Studio Mumbai

Ilse Crawford's dreamy Hong Kong den

Comfy, chilled and oh so chic – the elegant upstairs lounge bar at Duddell's

Comfy, chilled and oh so chic – the elegant upstairs lounge bar at Duddell's

Ilse Crawford’s design for Duddell’s has helped put this arty Hong Kong watering-hole on the map…


Absolutely marblelous... walls, stairs, floors and reception desk are encased in sleek travertine

Buzzy, tropical-modern metropolis Hong Kong is one of Asia’s premier playgrounds, but what’s been missing for a while in this mall-mad city are culture-smart hangouts. Well, not any more…

Word is spreading among Hong Kong’s art set about chic salon Duddell’s, a two-floor gallery space, restaurant and bar starring interiors by London-based designer Ilse Crawford. The Central location is hard to beat, atop fashion label Shanghai Tang’s gorgeous, flagship store. The food is a wow, with authentic Cantonese cuisine (care of chef Siu Hin Chi), vintage cocktails and a canny edit of classic old-world wines. Rotating exhibitions, curated by artists such as Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, and screenings keep the conversation flowing, while the lush garden terrace beckons for alfresco socialising.

Combining restrained elegance and laid-back comfort, Studioilse's decor offers a nod to the colonial gentlemen’s clubs of old, but updated for a more casual, contemporary scene. Surfaces are ravishing, from the grainy travertine staircase to the calming grey paint on walls. Meet pals for lunch or dinner in the third-floor dining room, where yellow velvet banquettes, ceramic ‘Gooseberry’ pendant lights by the UK’s Hand & Eye Studio and delicate Studioilse screens create a convivial atmosphere. Then peruse artworks as you ascend to the bar.

At last May’s Art Basel, the upstairs chill-out lounge was a hub for culture vultures, sipping and supping on day-long dim sum. Modern Italian furniture lends an international feel – helped by the very-dare-you blue Le Corbusier sofa for Cassina in a hot-pink frame – without sacrificing Hong Kong’s roots. Another highlight is the plant-packed adjacent terrace, described by Crawford as ‘a jungle in the urban jungle.’ Yenn Wong, who co-founded Duddell's with fellow movers and shakers Alan Lo and Paolo Pong, puts it perfectly: ‘It’s like being in the home of an art collector who also happens to have a Michelin-starred Cantonese chef and an award-winning mixologist.’

Plush leather chairs face yellow velvet banquettes in the airy third-floor dining room, lit by 'Gooseberry' pendants

Plush leather chairs face yellow velvet banquettes in the airy third-floor dining room, lit by 'Gooseberry' pendants

It's a jungle out there... The green and serene rooftop garden terrace

It's a jungle out there... The green and serene rooftop garden terrace