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

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…

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

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…
amantokyo.com

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

Point Yamu by COMO: Paola does Phuket

Luxe suites boast private pools.   'I always use light,' says Navone. 'Wherever you are, the idea was to bring the light and views of the landscape inside.' Supersized headboards, mirrors and day-beds play with scale

Luxe suites boast private pools. 'I always use light,' says Navone. 'Wherever you are, the idea was to bring the light and views of the landscape inside.' Supersized headboards, mirrors and day-beds play with scale

Luxe Thai resort Point Yamu by COMO draws on the talents of Italian design star Paola Navone 

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

When we heard that new Thai island getaway Point Yamu by COMO was upping the luxe factor on Phuket we were excited. When we realised Italian design whizz Paola Navone was behind the interiors, we started planning our holiday…

Walk into a COMO hotel – in Bali, Bangkok or Bhutan – and it’s the fragrance that hits you first. Throw in simply sleek mod-Asian styling, invigorating spa products, delicious food and some naughty-but-nice cocktails and you have the recipe that’s made founder Christina Ong’s escapes among the world’s most coveted.

Perched on Cape Yamu, on Phuket’s secluded east coast, COMO's latest style sanctuary overlooks the Andaman Sea and Phang Nga Bay’s jaw-dropping limestone karsts. 'Point Yamu is on a peninsula with water on three sides,' says Navone. 'The light and views are incredible, so they were the starting point.' She describes the project as 'still warm out of the oven,' and was delighted to take on her first hotel design challenge. 'I also liked working in Asia very much.' Although Belgian talent Jean-Michel Gathy took the architectural reins, the hotel feels like it was built from the interior design out, with Navone creating everything from coffee cups to side tables. The result is as uplifting as it is inspiring.

Boasting stellar sea views, this alfresco lounge blends white decor with burnt-orange hits on pillars, a nod to the sun and Buddhist robes. A pyramid of Thai wooden beds and woven details up the wow factor

Boasting stellar sea views, this alfresco lounge blends white decor with burnt-orange hits on pillars, a nod to the sun and Buddhist robes. A pyramid of Thai wooden beds and woven details up the wow factor

A mix of modern and local design features in bedrooms, which feel colourful yet calm. Ceramic stars throughout, from turquoise lamp bases to airy, cut-out room dividers, as well as Navone's eclectic pieces for Gervasoni

A mix of modern and local design features in bedrooms, which feel colourful yet calm. Ceramic stars throughout, from turquoise lamp bases to airy, cut-out room dividers, as well as Navone's eclectic pieces for Gervasoni

Colourful yet uncluttered, contemporary yet indigenous, the look manages to be both minimal and relaxed. 'It's about building a resort where you feel soft and not stressed by anything that surrounds you.' Navone’s signature skill with colour and materials, and ability to create a laid-back mood through graphic furniture and tactile accessories, is much in evidence. Hits of blue and aquamarine in bedrooms – from oversized headboards to ceramic sidetables, lamps and vases – recall the sea and sky, with striking cobalt tiles adding indulgence to bathrooms. Cool white, pale wood and tranquil grey form a soothing backdrop, with bold orange bringing warmth to public spaces. Quirky touches come care of intricate-edged mirrors, flocks of plates on walls and many-faced ottomans, with Navone's beloved flowers everywhere. 'Whatever we liked that can make people happy.'

Thailand is 'a paradise for sourcing materials, crafts and design solutions,' says Navone. 'You can find a factory producing industrial tiles – very modern and sophisticated – or small workshops that do simple, beautiful bowls.' She covered entrance columns with broken ceramic ('probably the most popular material in Thailand'), and used a big chunk of carved wood from the country's north as a lobby sculpture. Ceiling graphics were inspired by Thai calligraphy, the imperial craft of weaving rattan was harnessed for walls, and old Thai roof tiles were used to create a fishscale-esque feature wall in the restaurant (both cutlery and the aquatic-hued tableware was commissioned locally). Balloon-like lampshades took their cue from native crab and lobster traps, and Navone even encouraged one gold-leaf artisan to sing while he worked, to achieve her desired wall effect. Chinese furniture and Burmese lacquer bring pan-Asian flair, with cheery elephant figurines to remind guests where they are.

Naturally, outdoor furniture expert Navone, who is Italian brand Gervasonis art director, gives good sunlounger. 'The pool is my favourite place. You can read a book semi-submerged with your drink in the shallow end.' Alongside the glittering 100-metre infinity pool, Point Yamu spoils guests with a COMO Shambhala Retreat spa (including a yoga studio and healthy organic Glow menu), buzzy bar Aqua, great diving and a private beach. Thai street food and Italian restaurants Nahmyaa and La Sirena also beckon, overseen by Australian executive chef Daniel Moran. Most of the 106 rooms, suites and villas have view-blessed decks, while selected boudoirs boast private pools. Come on in – the water's lovely...
comohotels.com/pointyamu  paolanavone.it

Blue tiles in bathrooms reference the Andaman Sea, offset by white and grey Sino-patterned floor tiles. A sculptural bath and double basins are sleekly contemporary; theatrical lights and an ornate urn add glamour

Blue tiles in bathrooms reference the Andaman Sea, offset by white and grey Sino-patterned floor tiles. A sculptural bath and double basins are sleekly contemporary; theatrical lights and an ornate urn add glamour

Bedrooms come in a choice of cobalt blue or turquoise schemes, teamed with soothing white, wood and tactile tiles. Floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies offer vistas of Phang Nga Bay

Bedrooms come in a choice of cobalt blue or turquoise schemes, teamed with soothing white, wood and tactile tiles. Floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies offer vistas of Phang Nga Bay

Loving Paola's aesthetic? Then check out Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach, her upcoming hotel launching soon.