MPavilion 2016

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

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

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.org
MPavilion is at Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne until 18 February 2017

Pictures: John Gollings; models and sketches, Studio Mumbai

Serpentine Pavilion 2016

London's 2016 Serpentine Pavilion unzipped! A triumph of materials and form, Bjarke Ingels' intriguing design is accompanied by four startling Summer Houses

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

It wouldn't be summer in London without the annual unveiling of the Serpentine Pavilion, bringing cutting-edge modern architecture to Kensington Gardens beside the Serpentine Gallery. 2016's Serpentine Architecture Programme sees Denmark's Bjarke Ingels take centre stage with a jaw-dropping pavilion inspired by an 'unzipped wall'. Whereas 2015's pavilion by Spain's SelgasCano was all about psychedelic colour, Ingels' creation explores poetic material form.

Design fans can also explore four accompanying Summer Houses by international talents – Asif Khan, Kunlé Adeyemi, Barkow Leibinger and Yona Friedman – as part of an expanded offering for the 16th edition, on show until 9 October 2016. All riff on Queen Caroline's Temple, a classical 1734 summer house by William Kent a skip from the gallery. What's more, each temporary structure showcases an architect who has never built in the UK before.

ABOVE: Serpentine Pavilion 2016 by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
ABOVE RIGHT: Danish architect Bjarke Ingels in front of his pavilion
BELOW: An 'unzipped wall', Ingels' pavilion is formed from stacked, sculptural fibreglass frames with an inviting chamber within 

SERPENTINE PAVILION
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Transforming a straight line into a three-dimensional space, Copenhagen/New York-based Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)'s Serpentine Pavilion takes its cue from an 'unzipped wall'. The cavity within becomes a dramatic space for a daytime cafe, events and the Park Nights cultural programme, while the elegant spire above acts as a cathedral-like beacon. It's simultaneously cubic and curvy, chunky and translucent, geometric and ethereal, or as Ingels puts it: 'A structure that is freeform yet rigorous, modular yet sculptural, both transparent and opaque, both solid box and blob.'

Borrowing its structure from a basic brick wall, it is formed from fibreglass frames rather than clay bricks or stone blocks, with the wall then pulled apart to reveal the cave-like interior. 'This unzipping of the wall turns the line into a surface, transforming the wall into a space,' says Ingels. The effect is part valley, part hillside, setting up seductive repetitions and undulations via waves of component blocks, harnessing graphic light and shade. Inspiring recent projects by BIG include 2 World Trade Center in New York and the Danish National Maritime Museum.
 

SERPENTINE SUMMER HOUSES

Asif Khan
Up-and-coming London architect Asif Khan discovered that the original Queen Caroline's Temple was positioned to catch the sunlight from the nearby Serpentine Lake, as well as the rising sun on the queen's birthday, and aims to recapture that combination in his delicate Serpentine Summer House. A sinuous circle of white timber staves, its circumference has been unpeeled, allowing changing views of the temple. A polished mirrored platform and roof inside amplify the experience. Khan's past work includes the colourful Coca-Cola Beatbox Pavilion at the London Olympics and Littlehampton's contemporary West Beach Cafe.


Kunlé Adeyemi
Kunlé Adeyemi (head of Amsterdam/Lagos practice NLÉ) offers an inverse, rotated replica of Queen Caroline's Temple for his Serpentine Summer House, turning its robust form into a reimagined sculptural installation. Shelter and relaxation is still the name of the game, with rough, prefabricated sandstone building blocks forming a room, doorway and window for visitors to interact with the space and each other. While the sandstone is similar to the temple's materials, the interior surfaces are softer. Adeyemi's combination of carved-out void, homely interior and fragmented furniture blocks offers a deconstructed, playful temple for the 21st century. If you love it check out his prototype Makoko Floating School designed for a Lagos lagoon.


Barkow Leibinger
Barkow Leibinger (Berlin/New York) took inspiration from another, extinct 18th-century pavilion by William Kent, on a man-made hill near the gallery, which rotated and offered 360-degree views of the park. At some point it disappeared, until this 2016 Summer House in-the-round paid homage to the original. Open to its surroundings, it looks like a ribbon, thanks to its undulating structural band of plywood on a steel frame. Loopy but lovely, it's somewhere to see and be seen.


Yona Friedman
A squiggly modular design that can be arranged in different formations, Parisian veteran Yona Friedman's Summer House picks up on his pioneering late 1950s project La Ville Spatiale (Spatial City). A space-chain structure, representing a fragment of a larger grid, it explores mobile architecture using elevated space to save on land footprint (vital for growing cities). It also encourages customisable spaces, allowing residents to define their own modular homes – a future-forward vision by this 93-year-old visionary.

BELOW: The original, classical Queen Caroline's Temple by William Kent, inspiration for all four summer houses

www.serpentinegalleries.org
The Serpentine Pavilion is open daily (free entry), 10am-6pm, until 9 October 2016 at the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, London W2 (closed 6 July until 1pm 7 July). Event programme Park Nights runs until 23 September 2016. 

Photos by Iwan Baan; Queen Caroline's Temple photo by Garry Knight

2015 Summer Architecture Commission – John Wardle Architects

Pretty in pink! Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria unveils a futuristic fuchsia pavilion for summer...

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

With summer approaching in the southern hemisphere, it's the season for perky, pleasing alfresco pavilions. Luckily, Melbourne's John Wardle Architects (JWA) has channelled the zeitgeist, unveiling a soaring, nine-metre-high pink pavilion commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria today. Designed and made in Melbourne, the ephemeral space will host parties, live music performances, talks, workshops, children's activities and picnics over spring and summer, offering a theatrical centrepiece and shady retreat by day, and a striking glow by night.

Adorned with 1,350 hand-folded fuchsia-coloured blooms, the 2015 Summer Architecture Commission pavilion was inspired by the sweeping lines and airy form of the city's 1959-designed Sidney Myer Music Bowl ('an iconic Melbourne building that is an amazing, graceful, exuberant and incredibly innovative piece of civic design of that era', according to JWA). The new pavilion is intended to envelop visitors in rosy, kaleidoscopic pink light as they stand under the 18-metre-wide translucent canopy, formed from origami-like polypropylene (a sustainable, recyclable, eco-friendly material used in Australia's polymer bank notes).

Teaming a low-tech timber frame with a high-tech layer of precision-cut steel, it blends the handmade and the digital, with individually suspended 3D pink polypropylene elements creating its seductive skin. Its open-sided shape – lifting dramatically on high arches – suggests easy, breezy living, but behind the scenes smart 3D modelling and cutting-edge engineering and fabrication make the magic happen. 'Similar to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, a high level of engineering sophistication and material specificity is integral to the design in order to delicately balance the duality of span and strength,' says John Wardle. 'We also asked ourselves could it be disassembled and reassembled? Could it provide for other uses?'

The pavilion is part of a new annual NGV project which sees emerging and established architects and designers invited to create a cutting-edge installation or temporary structure for the gallery, to display in the NGV International's Grollo Equiset Garden. So think pink and check it out...
ngv.vic.gov.au

The 2015 Summer Architecture Commission: John Wardle Architects is at the NGV International, Melbourne, from 24 September 2015 to 1 May 2016. Open daily 10am-5pm, free entry.

Serpentine Pavilion 2015: the ultimate Instagram playground

Love it or hate it, this year's Serpentine Pavilion sure knows how to party...

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

Like Marmite or Madonna, this year's Serpentine Gallery Pavilion is a vote splitter. Designed by Spanish architectural duo SelgasCano to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the London gallery's renowned annual pavilion commissions, its cocoon-like maze of psychedelic colour and playful slug-shaped plastic tentacles were bound to divide critics. Gravitas is ditched for a rainbow riot. Sleek sophistication for a trippy pleasuredome that feels low-tech, temporary and like a prototype work in progress (the pair see it as exploratory research for a future building).

As the launch shindig proved though, José Selgas and Lucia Cano's alien abode is quite the party pavilion. Exploring its tactile, translucent tubes, and peering out through its colour-changing plastic panels, broken up by breathtaking 'windows' to the park and sky, is fascinating and fun. And while some have been underwhelmed by its architectural construction of woven strips and scaffolding, and rough-and-ready finish ('like waking up with a hangover in a tent'), it's nothing if not photogenic. Visitors agree this is the ultimate Instagram pavilion, perfect for clicking, sharing and liking.

ABOVE: A café and events hub forms the core of SelgasCano's colourful Serpentine Pavilion, which combines clear and opaque walls 
ABOVE RIGHT: Its double-layered plastic skin wraps over steel arches
BELOW: Visitors enter via various portals and peek out through openings to interact with nature; at night the pavilion resembles a sexy spaceship

Being inside the pavilion is key to understanding its alternative appeal. 'The spatial qualities only unfold when immersed within it,' says SelgasCano. The pair 'sought a way to allow the public to experience architecture through simple elements: structure, light, transparency, shadows, lightness, form, sensitivity, change, surprise, colour and materials.'  These varying effects are created by wrapping a double-layered shell of flourine-based plastic (EFTE) in different hues over an amorphous, polygonal frame, with four tunnels formed from metal arches. Some sections are opaque, others translucent, with stained-glass-esque hues and reflections changing as you wander through, and the odd secret entrance to keep you guessing. 

SelgasCano is no stranger to colour, having designed the vibrant Merida Factory Youth Movement skatepark in Spain and orange creative workspace Second Home in London. This pavilion marks a bold change from recent paler offerings, including last year's rock-like cave by Smiljan Radic, Sou Fujimoto's ethereal white edifice (2013), Herzog & de Meuron and Ai WeiWei's sunken pool pod (2012) and Peter Zumthor's serene black courtyard garden (2011) – the last bright outing was Jean Nouvel's all-red pavilion in 2010. What's more, 2015's party pad really comes alive at night, glowing with good vibes. So throw architectural restraint to the wind and discover an iridescent Instagramable idyll.

The Serpentine Pavilion is open daily, 10am-6pm, until 18 October 2015 at the Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, London W2. Photos by Iwan Baan, NAARO and Jim Stephenson
www.serpentinegalleries.org

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...
mpavilion.org

MPavilion is open daily until 1 February 2015, opposite the Arts Centre on St Kilda Road, Melbourne 
Photos by Earl Carter