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Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of OMA unveil MPavilion 2017
MPavilion 2017 is the fourth annual architect-designed summer pavilion for Melbourne. Photo: John Gollings.

MELBOURNE.- MPavilion 2017, designed by acclaimed architects Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of international firm OMA, opened today in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens. One of the world’s most revered architects, this is Rem Koolhaas’s first visit to Australia in nearly 40 years. Initiated and commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation with support from the City of Melbourne, Victorian State Government through Creative Victoria and ANZ, MPavilion 2017 is the fourth annual architect-designed summer pavilion for Melbourne. Together with hundreds of creative collaborators—both Australian and international—MPavilion presents a free, four-month program of events from 3 October 2017 to 4 February 2018.

MPavilion 2017 was officially opened by MPavilion founder, Naomi Milgrom AO; Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle AC; and MPavilion architects Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of OMA. The opening event was commemorated with a live performance from Yorta Yorta soprano Deborah Cheetham AO joined by the Dhungala Children’s Choir.

Naomi Milgrom AO, chair of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, who commissioned Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten to design MPavilion 2017, commented, “It is a rare and privileged opportunity to have Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of OMA design MPavilion 2017, and a remarkable coup for MPavilion to be their first completed commission in Australia. Rem and David’s profound vision and insight has resulted in an extraordinary pavilion for Melbourne.”

Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle AC, speaking at the opening event, said, “MPavilion 2017 will blend traditions and architecture of the past with innovative design elements of the present. For thousands of years, people have attended amphitheatres to escape reality and lose themselves in entertainment, while the audio and visual elements of MPavilion 2017 will be particularly engaging.

“As the MPavilion project has evolved over the past four years, it is constantly finding new ways to involve our local designers as well as the broader community.”

Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of OMA commented, “O ur design for MPavilion 2017 is intended to provoke all kinds of activities through its configurable nature and a materiality that relates to its direct surroundings. We are happy that MPavilion can perform as a theatre of debate around the city and its development, and contribute to the ongoing civic discourse of Melbourne.”

Inspired by ancient amphitheatres and embraced by a hill of native plants, MPavilion 2017 is shaped by two tiered grandstands—one fixed and the other moveable—and covered by a floating roof structure. The rotating grandstand allows interaction from all angles and for the pavilion to open up to the garden and broader cityscape. Overhead, a two-metre-deep gridded, machine-like canopy with a protective translucent roof embeds advanced lighting technology for the series of free public events. Comprising static and dynamic elements, the 1919-metre aluminium clad structure allows for multiple configurations that can generate unexpected programming, echoing the ideals of the typology of the traditional amphitheatre.

With a live performance on Friday 6 October, 6pm MPavilion 2017 features a twilight activated every night. The pavilion will erupt into an audiovisual symphony presented in collaboration with musician, composer and sound designer Philip Brophy and lighting designer Ben Cobham of bluebottle. Likewis e, each morning, MPavilion’s daily morning ritual features an intimate and personal audio storytelling experience by N’arweet Carolyn Briggs, an elder of the Boonwurrung nation and language and linguistics expert committed to recording and sharing her heritage and history in oral and written form.

MPavilion’s 2017 design was brought to fruition by builders Kane Construction; engineers Arup, building surveyors Gardener Group and landscape architects Tract who worked closely with OMA Australia’s regional director Paul Jones.

The MPavilion 2017 program features hundreds of free public events through the popular MTalks, MMeets, MMusic and MKids event series, plus the MProjects installation component. New this year is MPavilion’s special regional-focused program led by project manager and Charlie Perkins scholar Sarah Lynn Rees (Indigenous Architecture and Design Victoria/IADV), and devised in collaboration with Shepparton Art Museum and Geelong Gallery. Also new this year is a series of events—more than 30 in total—initiated through MPavilion’s inaugural public call for proposals in July 2017.

Opening MPavilion’s 2017 program is MPavilion’s inaugural event, ‘Grandstanding: A reconfigurable future’ on Tuesday 3 October, 1pm. In this event, presented in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Architects, Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten will join some of Melbourne’s most influential architects, cultural leaders and design thinkers including Rory Hyde, curator from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum—guided by MC Esther Anatolitis (recently announced as the next executive director of NAVA)—in a quick-fire discussion about public space, the built environment and the world that surrounds it. On Wednesday 4 October, 1pm, Koolhaas and Gianotten wi ll appear with Naomi Milgrom AO in the first MTalks in-conversation event this season, hosted by leading Australian journalist, author and ABC broadcaster, Virginia Trioli. Together they’ll discuss their hopes and dreams for MPavilion 2017, the intentions and provocations in the design, and new ideas on architecture and the built environment.

The first week of MPavilion 2017’s program will also feature the MTalks event ‘What it means to live today’, presented by London-based architect Jack Self, co-curator of the British Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale and director of the REAL Foundation, on Thursday 5 October, 6pm. The first MProjects for the season, ‘Progress: The Game of Leaders’ runs from 4 October – 15 October, and sees Singaporean artist Sam Lopresent a playful and interactive allegory that explores—with giant Jenga blocks—what’s put in peril by the unfettered progress of the so-called First World.

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