MPavilion
John Gollings

MPavilion

AL_A (Amanda Levete Architects) as Architects

The 2015 MPavilion designed by AL_A is now open to the public. A major international architecture commission and design collaboration, MPavilion is an initiative of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation. Sitting in Melbourne's Queen Victoria Gardens, the Pavilion is presented free to the public for over four months from 6 October 2015 to 7 February 2016, and will be populated by more than 200 events. Employing materials and technology developed for the aerospace industry to create a graceful ‘forest canopy’ of five and three metre‐wide translucent petals supported on slender columns. Each petal is just a few millimetres thick and the ultra-lightweight structure sits lightly in the landscape and gently responds to the climate. The petals are fitted with LED lights that are activated at sunset to give a light performance synchronised with music. The Pavilion is a celebration of those natural shelters where we come together and we have achieved an exceptionally light, open structure that sits gently on the land and allows the light, the wind, and sometimes the rain, to form part of the show. It is designed to provide a contemplative, personal experience as well as a place to congregate. The design employs recently developed composite construction methods, refined in collaboration with Australian specialist mouldCAM, to create a modular design that consists of 13 large and 30 small petals that respond to the environment, shivering in the wind, and creating a play of light and shade underneath. The petals are supported by 95 carbon fibre columns that vary from four to three metres in height. Composite technology has revolutionised engineering industries such as aerospace and has the potential to do the same for construction. The use of composites enables structures of unprecedented lightness combined with great strength and the potential applications in architecture are tantalisingly unexplored. Composites are particularly exciting for AL_A because the sector is propelled by research into new techniques and processes that in turn give rise to new formal and expressive possibilities to be discovered.

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