MPavilion launches its ninth season
MPavilion is one of Australia’s more forward-thinking architecture commissions, and with internationally renowned Bangkok-based architecture and design practice all(zone) appointed to design the ninth season, its reputation appears to be in good hands.
MPavilion is an ongoing initiative of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, with support from the City of Melbourne and Creative Victoria.
It was created with the intention to explore unique contemporary architecture designs and to use these designs to connect people and cultural institutions, an achievement it is striving to continue today.
The choice to appoint all(zone), led by co-founder and design director Dr Rachaporn Choochuey, came about due to the way the playfully innovative studio’s designs could make people feel at home while still using reusable and recyclable materials.
“We are honoured to commission all(zone) to design MPavilion 2022,” founder of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, Naomi Milgrom AC said.
“Rachaporn’s architectural approach to ‘the art of living lightly’ and creating spaces with people and the environment at the heart of her practice demonstrates how architecture and design can contribute to creating sustainable, equitable cities.”
Invited to work on the MPavilion before a COVID pandemic-induced postponement, highly acclaimed architect and current teaching professor at Yale University, Dr Rachaporn Choochuey hadn’t been sure if the commission was still something that was going ahead.
But late last year, she received the call that it was finally happening and was left to excitedly start exploring what she could do to make this ninth MPavilion stand out.
Set on working with recyclable materials, Dr Choochuey and her team soon found that there were not many fabrics available in the market for architectural use, and were left wishing there were more environmentally friendly products in the building industry.
“The fabric you can apply in architecture is slightly different than the fabric you use in clothing because they have to comply with building regulations and so we spent a lot of time trying to find recyclable products,” she told Southbank News.
“We quickly learnt there was a very big hole in the material market for not only recyclable fabrics but also environmentally friendly fabrics for architecture.”
Focusing on the products that they could use, the final design is one that is made up of three different layers, and encapsulates all(zone)’s vision to “celebrate outdoor living”.
“We used three different types of fabric mesh, one is practical fishing net from this factory where we asked them to customise the colours, patterns, and size for us, and then the middle waterproof layer is a new material called STFE, and it’s the first time being used in Australia,” Dr Choochuey said.
This cutting-edge middle layer is supplied by French manufacturer Serge Ferrari and is iconic for being as transparent as glass while also being 10 times lighter.
The addition of this material will achieve the studio’s vision of a relaxing ambience, similar to that of “rays of light flickering through layers of leaves”.
The final layer is then a waffle of colour fabric, which acts as a loose hanging ceiling.
As someone who always found joy in imagining structures from very abstract factors, and then turning them into something tangible, Dr Choochuey is looking forward to showcasing the ninth MPavilion, and having it become a place for people to come together.
And with her insisting it needs to be a place that also sells food and beverages, it seems Melburnians are in for an all-new MPavilion experience.
While still in the process of being constructed weeks before its opening, on December 8, the design of the ninth MPavilion and its program points to it being a remarkably captivating and exciting end product.
Alongside a long list of events on the program, for both kids and adults, the 2022 MPavilion will collaborate with some of Melbourne’s finest chefs to provide a new food truck experience each week.
Speaking at the media launch of the 2022 MPavilion program, in mid-November, CEO of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation Sam Redston said the latest design was an “exemplar of design excellence” that “demonstrates Victoria’s capacity to lead an international discussion about architecture”.
“We never lose sight of the true impact of the MPavilion, and our focus is always upon what happens within the MPavilion,” he said.
“The connections and experiences people share through our program, and the new ideas, relationships and initiatives continue beyond the MPavilion.”
Incorporated in the unique initiatives and collaborations that can be seen this year is an exclusive MPavilion Pale Ale, which involved teaming up with local Preston brewery Tallboy & Moose, and Melbourne-based graphic designer Anita Shao, who created the beer’s bold, summer-inspired label.
Staff at the MPavilion will also be wearing newly designed uniform aprons by Safa El Samad, that can be easily transformed into a tote bag, while still showcasing the carefully embroidered sketch of one of MPavilion’s earlier designs.
To celebrate the work of Dr Choochuey and all(zone) and commemorate the 70th anniversary of a business relationship between Australia and Thailand, the program will begin on opening weekend with a Thai Festival.
Coming back to Melbourne for the first time since 2018, the MPavilion Thai Festival is being presented in partnership with the Thai Embassy, and will see an array of performances, Thai food, and a monk blessing all take place.
The MPavilion will be open from December 8, at Queen Victoria Gardens, and will remain in place and active well into next year, until it is relocated to a permanent home yet to be found, as is tradition for every year’s designs. •
For the full program list, visit: mpavilion.org/program
Captions: Rachaporn Choochuey standing in front of MPavilion’s structure during its initial stages of production.
Photo: Ajay Viswanath.