Melbourne turned on a grey, cold, wet and windy morning for the ceremony surrounding the opening by Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle of the third annual architect-designed summer MPavilion constructed in the Queen Victoria Gardens.
Celebrating beauty of form for ‘thinking, making and seeing’, MPavilion 2016 is as hand made buildings from antiquity, meant to collaborate with its surroundings, not dominate.
It is as though the elements wild though they may be, yet have some unrecorded harmony… to help humankind discover that inner balance between man and nature.
The sun while it may have been hiding radiated gloriously from the dulcet tones of Aboriginal Australian soprano, composer, actor and playwright Deborah Cheetham AO as she sang the warm welcoming song she had composed especially for the occasion.
Her middle name Joy became the perfect metaphor for the state of happiness everyone was feeling as accompanied by leading Indian musician Dr Aneesh Pradhan, she thrilled those attending this very special event.
MPavilion founder Naomi Milgrom AO and Indian High Commissioner Naydeep Suri were in attendance along with the Lord Mayor and Indian born award winning architect Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai, which he went home to found in 1995.
This happened after receiving his M. Arch from Washington University in St Louis, USA in 1990 and working in Los Angeles and London between 1989 and 1995 with American abstract artist and architect Richard Meier.
Bijoy Jain communing with nature selected as his main building component bamboo – or ‘green steel’, together with bluestone and rope products of nature that help refresh the heart, to construct by hand his ethereal 16.8m long pavilion.
Slatted panels forming the MPavilion roof are constructed from sticks from the Karvi plant woven together by craftspeople in India over a four-month period.
They are in turn covered by cotton canvas, enabling the structure to offer both shelter and shade to those who attend the FREE public program of over 400 talks, workshops, performances and installations to be held October 5, 2016 until February 18, 2017.
“Bijoy’s handcrafted MPavilion is a calming and thoughtful space which will inspire the people of Melbourne. As a utopian space for the creative industry and community, MPavilion continues to challenge the way we see and engage with the world by encouraging design debate and cultural exchange.”
Central to the design of MPavilion is a feature of both western and eastern traditions of architecture, an occuli (eye) or opening at the centre of the roof.
Connecting earth to sky, the opening is in this case hovering over a ‘golden well’, symbolizing the importance of water for both community and place.
Sited nearby the Yarra River important to Australia’s ancestral peoples, as well as the early settlers of Melbourne, the philosophy attached to the design of MPavilion is all about engaging with the landscape and helping its visitors ‘to discover essentials of the world – and of one’s self’.
At Rome the Pantheon the oldest building still standing from antiquity has a single aperture 9.1-m across allowing the sun’s rays to sweep across the temple floor by day and for the stars in the heavens to be seen at night. It connects the earth to the sky as at MPavilion and past to present.
Bamboo is a vigorous long-lived plant whose branches can be put to a multiplicity of uses making everything from buildings, furniture, eating implements like chopsticks, and utensils and clothing.
Its great beauty is used in gardens and while the strong winds of difficulty and devastation may try to lay the bamboo very low, it never breaks.
MPavilion’s proximity to the National Gallery of Victoria, Arts Centre, Fed Square, the trams along St Kilda Road and trains from Flinders Street station mean it is easily accessible for families and friends to enjoy all the fabulous events on offer.
An elaborate ‘tazia’ entrance tower, as used in Indian ceremonies, sits next to the pavilion as a welcoming gesture.
MPavilion should provide the perfect place to enjoy a very special experience. On balmy summer days and evenings it will feature lighting design by Ben Cobham of Bluebottle, which he has scheduled to be in-synch with a commissioned nightly soundscape by artists Geoff Nees and J David Franzke.
Bijoy Jain commented “MPavilion is a space for the people of Melbourne to gather, talk, think and to reflect. My objective has not just been to create a new building, but to capture the spirit of the place by choosing the right materials, respecting the surrounding nature and working collaboratively with local craftspeople to share design and construction ideas” he said.
MPavilion onsite staff will be fitted-out in a specially designed costume by Australian designers Perks and Mini (P.A.M.) and an onsite kiosk Three Thousand Thieves will open each day from 9am offering a Melbourne-focused menu.
This will include some of this city’s best specialty coffee, food and beverages.
They will be supplied by such as well-known distributors as T2, Capi, Shadowfax wines, Melbourne Gin Company, Koko Black, Yarra Valley Diary and Sneakyboy Sweets.
Hosted by architect Peter Maddison with MPavilion creator Naomi Milgrom and architect Bijoy Jain you can join into a conversation about cultural exchange and the collective construction process, which is taking place on Thursday 6 October at 6.15pm
This talk coincides with a special exhibition of Bijoy Jain’s design process at RMIT Gallery that started on September 9 and will run until October 22.
Talking to a number of people who have worked with the architect to bring the pavilion to fruition, they all commended him for both his passion and patience.
We all agreed MPavilion sat prettily in the landscape and we wished it would be able to stay there. However, as it is one of four, it will have to make way for the 2017 structure and find a new home permanently elsewhere in the city.
That announcement explained the Lord Mayor when officially opening MPavilion, will happen later. He explained how 32 education and cultural organizations from Melbourne and around the world are all involved in the program.
MPavilion is also now part of the Melbourne Festival and Confluence: Festival of India and will also be an integral aspect of other festivals, including the new Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (Asia TOPA), Melbourne Music Week, White Night and the India Leadership Summit through the popular MTalks, MMeets, MMusic, MProjects and MKids event series.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016