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

Aman to that!

The new Aman Tokyo marks the first capital city launch for the luxe Asian hotel brand, and its debut Japanese getaway. We’re just loving the lobby…


When it comes to hotels, the Fizz is particularly partial to two things; a look-at-me lobby and the perfect pool. Luckily, new city retreat Aman Tokyo delivers on both fronts. Unveiled on 22 December, it’s a serene dream of a place, with sleek interiors by Aman regular Kerry Hill Architects. We’re talking tactile materials, contemporary simplicity and epic, urban views.

Set in upscale financial district Otemachi, Aman Tokyo perches, God-like, on the top six floors of the 38-storey Otemachi Tower, offering 84 rooms and suites with panoramic vistas of the Imperial Palace Gardens. Design plays with natural light and shadow, drawing on a classic Japanese palette of camphor wood, washi paper and stone, teamed with modern technology.

TOP PICTURE: Tokyo skyline views from a Premier Room living area
BELOW: A lofty lantern-inspired feature tops the soaring lobby lounge; internal gardens add calm to the space

Lobby love
So back to that jaw-dropping lobby… The atrium’s centrepiece is a soaring architectural feature shaped like a 30-foot-high Japanese paper lantern. Rising six floors through the core of the building, it was crafted with layers of textured washi paper stretched over a shoji frame. Below, the hotel’s vast inner sanctum beckons, combining Ikebana branch and flower arrangements with a calming water feature and two rock gardens. Soothing timber and sheer stone floors and walls surround this oasis, creating a monumental mood.

Yet design takes its cue from Japan’s cosier residential structures, too, with the inner garden flanked by a veranda, or engawa, which leads to the dining and lounge areas. Traditionally a wooden space between the garden and living quarters in local homes, the concept is mirrored in the separation of sleeping and living zones in the hotel’s bedrooms.

BELOW: Zen-chic rules: pale wood and paper shoji screens in a Deluxe Room; the Aman Suite boasts a deep furo bath for stylish soaking

Bathing beauties
Naturally, bedrooms here are all huge, zen and Instagram-friendly (heck, some even boast pantries). But the real draw for us? Each features a large furo, a deep soaking tub that celebrates the Japanese ritual of bathing.

Pool pampering
Aman Tokyo’s seductive 30-metre indoor pool stretches across the skyline, with dreamy day-beds, steam rooms and Japanese hot baths for unwinding in style. It’s part of a two-floor wellness centre, which includes an Aman Spa with eight treatment rooms, a fitness centre, and yoga and Pilates studios.

ABOVE: Inviting loungers line the sleek, indoor swimming pool

Dining divas
Peckish? At ground-floor The Café by Aman, you can sample Mediterranean fare and seafood, with indoor/outdoor seating giving onto the Otemachi Forest. Signature still and sparkling sake is served from distinctive vats. In the main reception area, the Lounge by Aman offers casual snacking, afternoon tea and evening cocktails, with floor-to-ceiling windows for gazing at the Imperial Gardens and Mount Fuji. Alternatively, step it up at The Restaurant by Aman on level 33, a Med fine-diner which also whips up Japanese dishes. Don’t miss the glass-fronted, walk-in wine/sake cellar. Throw in a slightly un-PC Cigar Lounge and a very-PC Residents’ Library – lined with books on Japanese art and culture, and elegant artefacts – and this is one Tokyo stay that won’t be lost in translation.

ABOVE: Fine dining and stellar vistas at The Restaurant by Aman

Coastal cool to city slickers
Known for its luxurious yet intimate Asian resorts, the Aman group has always embodied minimal-chic design, immaculate service and magical locations. The brand’s 26 properties have generated a fiercely loyal following – aka Amanjunkies – of style-conscious jetsetters. Now, though, Aman fans can swap the beachlounger for the city-skyline bar, with a new generation of Aman hotels targeting cities such as New York, London, Paris and Singapore. Watch this space…

'Aman Tokyo', Otemachi, Tokyo, Japan. Until May 2015, introductory rates for double rooms start at £505 a night.

The Most Marblelicious Bar In Town

Brit design star Lee Broom is the talent behind the marble-chic interiors of new London bar and restaurant Old Tom & English


British designer Lee Broom – aka Mr Marble – is a dab hand with grainy stone. During September’s London Design Festival, the only thing hotter than his hedonistic rooftop party at the Ace Hotel London Shoreditch was the elegant ‘Nouveau Rebel’ show at his Electra House boutique nearby. Marble lighting was the scene-stealer, especially the LED-lit Carrara marble 'Tube' lights, shaped like fluorescent strip lights but glowing with glamour.

Now Broom is behind the marble-chic interior design of new Soho cocktail lounge and restaurant Old Tom & English. Named after an 18th-century gin recipe (the spirit du jour), this reservation-only watering-hole is the brainchild of siblings Costas and Maria Constantinou, who collaborated with him on previous local venue The Arts Theatre Club.

Drawing on honest, traditional materials, Broom wanted to create a contemporary take on Sixties home entertaining, as if you’ve just swung by a mate’s stylish apartment for a sociable dinner or killer cocktail party. Solid oak ‘One Light Only’ pendants and slatted oak vertical panelling add to the retro vibe. Sofas and ottomans are a subtle grey, while hits of brass and red on lounge chairs and carpet up the ante.

But it’s sensual marble that rules at this sultry space, starting from the seductive marble 'Chamber' pendant lights suspended above the marble-topped, multi-level bar. A bespoke, post-modern marble fireplace surround dominates the main lounge, flanked by more marble care of sleek ‘Tube' lights, curvy coffee tables and 'Fulcrum' candlesticks. Broom’s sculptural crystal and marble ‘Globe' lights add to the mix of circular and geometric forms and signature cocktails are served in crystal ‘On The Rock’ glassware, boasting tactile marble bases.

“Marble features throughout in lighting, furniture and right through to the barware and tableware,” says Broom. “It’s a dream project for a designer and I believe it will be a real gem for Soho.” The bar is also a homage to Soho's naughty red light heritage, with rooms named after famous London madams and prostitutes, including Cynthia, Lulu and Nell.

Loungelovers in search of sin can sink into extended ‘Quilt’ sofas (originally for Heal's), while eagle-eyed design fans will spot bespoke updates of Broom's hero pieces the ‘Decanterlight’ and ‘Crystal Bulb’ recreated with new cuts.

Access to the basement venue is secret speakeasy style – buzz the bell at the heavy wooden door, then enter via a covert lobby. Inside, take your pick from pews in the bar, lounge or five vaulted cloisters, ideal for clandestine trysts or private quaffing. Drink aficionados can enjoy customised cocktails; foodies can expect twists on trad English dishes at intimate tables.

Each space within Old Tom & English has its own dedicated drinks service, such as a bar cart, revolving cocktail cabinet or vintage sideboard, from which waiters finesse your order (one even offers a surprise hatch to the bar). “I thought about the kind of personal service I like to receive, and the theatre of creating drinks in front of you or presenting food in a way which considers its interior, like you would at home,” says Broom. "The design has been created around those elements and much like the service informs the design, the design of the interior influences the service." Make ours a Martini...

Photographs: Luke Hayes