After two life-altering years in the making, MPAVILION 2021 | The LightCatcher, designed by globally acclaimed architects Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel of Map Studio (Venice), opened on 2nd December in the Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne.
Renowned for responding to existing sites in a way that is both sensitive and celebratory, MAP studio’s MPavilion heralds a milestone for Melbourne, representing a significant path back to re-energising the creative and cultural life of our city.
A mirrored kaleidoscopic cube featuring an open steel structure on four u-shaped concrete columns, The Lightcatcher was conceived as an urban lighthouse – the angled mirrored panels acting as a container of ideas that reflect and amplify both the people and cultural activity taking place in MPavilion, and its ever-changing environment in the Queen Victoria Gardens. Commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, The Lightcatcher is the seventh in an ongoing series of architect- designed summer pavilions made specifically for Melbourne.
Architect Traudy Pelzel said “We are delighted to have been chosen to do such a relevant project for Melbourne and its cultural activity, although we are saddened not to be with you all. Still, we hope to come soon. In our minds, the kaleidoscope structure takes on a double meaning of an urban lighthouse to gather people around as an expression of new hope and to glitter our minds into appreciating new horizons. But it's also a kind of warning. It is not a shelter in nature as the previous pavilions were, but an element of amplification of human activities in nature as a metaphor of man's current condition—inspiring an aspect of new awareness of this fragile situation.”
Naomi Milgrom, AC founder of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, who commissioned MAP studio (Venice) to design MPavilion 2021 said, “We are incredibly proud of our partnership with MAP studio. Delivering ‘The Lightcatcher’ under such challenging global circumstances is a testament to both the remarkable minds behind the design and the teams who realised its construction. Their inspirational MPavilion is poised to re-invigorate our city as it plays host for the summer to the energy and ideas of hundreds of designers, architects and performances that will create, work and play underneath.”
In 2021, MPavilion celebrates its longest-ever season of programming, featuring a range of international and local collaborations, the slate includes over 400 in-person events, spanning talks, workshops, performances, kid-friendly experiences, community projects and installations.
"The project for the temporary MPavilion 2021 pavilion, commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, explores the condition of temporary architectural structure as a powerful attractor and indicator of the creative and dynamic quality of the city of Melbourne, as previous editions have amply demonstrated.
The structure we are imagining – a solution chosen with the team of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation among five preliminary design schemes, developed in July 2019 – is a kind of lantern that in its geometric abstraction wants to qualify as an urban lighthouse that iluminates and hosts the community cultural activities planned for the 2021 summer season in Melbourne. For all these reasons we imagined that the pavilion could be called ‘The Light Catcher’.
The pavilion is composed of a reticular steel structure in galvanized and painted tubular profiles that support a set of panels in aluminium mirror finishing that reflect light, activities and people who will use this space.All these surfaces will function partially as shading elements.
The three-dimensional mesh, based on 2x2x2 square modules that configure a base of 12 metres side (6 modules) and a volume of 6 metres high (3 modules), overall covers an area of 144 sqm.
The structure defines inside a hollow space of 64 sqm and 6.4 metres high from the ground level that floats on a coloured, organic, rubber surface. The three-dimensional mesh is supported by four supports in prefabricated reinforced concrete, that in force of the particular U-shaped form and smooth edge, can be used also as a sitting place.
A small circular kiosk hosts a useful space to shelter kiosk carts or mobile seats and be potential support for any specific activities. In this pandemic period, the pavilion is thought of as a stage around which people gather to attend events and shows.
The pavilion’s geometric abstraction characteristics qualify it as a container designed to host a multiplicity of ever- changing events, such as variations of the light that it will be able to reflect. The Light Catcher proposes itself as an urban sign of the consolidated role of civic place of meeting and inspiration that distinguishes the MPavilion in Queen Victoria Gardens. Moreover, through a system of permeable ground supports that qualify itself as a habitable device in different ways that the intense program and the different types of events will require.
The pavilion is designed as a temporary structure that, through the use of prefabricated components, can be easily relocated and can guarantee a life cycle of 20 years in accordance with the indications of the brief".
Cover photo ©John Gollings