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Above image: Amanda Levete. Photograph: Martin Godwin Martin Godwin/Martin Godwin
Following the success of Sean Godsell’s inaugural MPavilion in 2014, many in the local architecture and design community expected an Australian practice to be named as this year’s designer. Casting any preconceived notions for local candidates aside, and putting forward a wider outlook for the program, Naomi Milgrom announced yesterday that Amanda Levete, founder of British architectural firm AL_A, will design Melbourne’s second annual MPavilion in 2015.
Each year, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation commissions a leading architect to create a new MPavilion in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens. The decision to invite internationally acclaimed Levete to design this year’s pavilion was described by Milgrom as an opportunity to evolve the new Melburnian tradition into a global architecture and design event. The MPavilion, modelled on the Serpentine Gallery pavilion in London’s Hyde Park, will host talks, workshops, performances and installations between 5 October and 7 February 2016.
Levete won the UK’s most prestigious architectural prize, the RIBA Stirling Prize for her Lord’s Cricket Ground Media Centre project. She envisions that her MPavilion design will investigate material responses to Melbourne’s summer weather, as a way to ignite cultural impact and urban renewal.
To do this, her pavilion will have no walls, but will give the sensation “a forest canopy in the heart of the city”. The canopy will be created from custom composites, and will be produced in collaboration with an Australian yacht fabricator. The composites will allow her to create translucent, incredibly lightweight, and fragile elements that move in the wind.
Levete also anticipates her design will exploit the temporary nature of the pavilion form. She explained that there is “a kind of urgency when you design something for a short time and you don’t have a huge number of years in the build-up to it. It forces you to think very quickly.”
Levete will also help shape a program of free cultural events at the pavilion. One idea she has suggested is a series of bedtime stories for children under the pavilion. “The kids (will be) just below the canopy at dusk, being read their bedtime story. That captures the slightly ethereal experience we want to create,” she said.
Professor Donald Bates, Chair of Architectural Design at the University of Melbourne, expressed his support for the decision to appoint Amanda, remarking that Amanda has very unique ways of working, and that her work is fresh and original.
Last year, the inaugural MPavilion designed by Sean Godsell attracted more than 64,000 visitors over 317 free events. Godsell’s pavilion will be permanently relocated to the gardens of the Hellenic Museum in Melbourne’s CBD.
The MPavilion 2015 cultural program will be announced in August.