A large pavilion made from seven kilometers of bamboo just opened in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens. Designed by Indian architect Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai, the airy bamboo structure is this year’s MPavilion, an annual architect-designed summer pavilion that serves as the Australian city’s version of London’s Serpentine Pavilion. The MPavilion 2016 celebrates handmade architecture and traditional craftsmanship and will offer a free, four-month public program with over 400 talks, workshops, performances, and installations from October to February.
When we first reported on the 2016 MPavilion, organizers hoped the structure would be Australia’s largest bamboo structure, but whether or not that goal has been achieved is yet to be confirmed. Architect Bijoy Jain originally planned to build the roof and awning with karvi panels, made from a mix of cow dung and earth, however the material proved unsuitable for Melbourne’s climate. Despite the setback, the MPavilion 2016 is an impressive example of handmade architecture constructed from handcrafted Indian techniques and materials. Seven kilometers of bamboo, 50 tons of stone, and 26 kilometers of rope sourced from India and Australia were used to make the 16.8-square-meter summer pavilion. Instead of Karvi panels, the roof is built using sticks from the Karvi plant woven together by craftspeople in India over four months.
“MPavilion is a space for the people of Melbourne to gather, talk, think and to reflect,” said Jain. “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.” An opening at the center of MPavilion’s roof brings additional light to the space, while a golden well below collects rainwater. An elaborate ‘tazia’ entrance tower, seen in Indian ceremonies, sits adjacent. The pavilion will host a light and music show activated at dusk every night.
The annual MPavilion is in its third iteration and was initiated and commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation with support from the City of Melbourne and the Victorian State Government. After this year’s MPavilion season is over, the structure will be moved to a new permanent location in Melbourne.
Images by John Gollings