MPavilion 4 MPavilion 2021 - The Lightcatcher

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Directors
    Francesco Magnani, Traudy Pelzel
  • Kaitautoko / Contributors
    Nigel Burdon - AECOM, Luke Steele - Schiavello, Louise Nicholson - Naomi Milgrom Foundation
  • Client
    Naomi Milgrom Foundation

MPavilion is Australia’s leading architectural commission and design event, created by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation. Annually, a temporary pavilion is designed and erected in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens. Over the summer, it hosts a dynamic program of free events for the community, including: lively talks, performances, workshops, installations and kid-friendly experiences. MPavilion 2021 was designed by Venetian architects Traudy Pelzel and Francesco Magnani of MAP studio.

The design brief for MPavilion 2021 was to create not only an architectural space, but a dynamic platform that actively engages with the urban landscape - a container of ideas incorporating the highest level of design thinking and experimentation. With hundreds of visitors entering the structure each day, it was important that MPavilion 2021 be easily accessible and inviting to all. Versatility and adaptability were also paramount in order to cater to the over 300 events of varying types that would take place throughout the 5-month season. Additionally, there needed to be a practical space for services. Finally, the brief stated that the structure be entirely dismountable and transportable to enable relocation to its new permanent home at the end of the season.

Dubbed the Lightcatcher, architects Traudy Pelzel and Francesco Magnani imagined MPavilion 2021 as a shimmering, kaleidoscopic device, a form of urban lighthouse intended to illuminate and reflect the diverse and inclusive programming within and the landscape around it. Open on all its sides and with no specific orientation, the Lightcatcher provided absolute flexibility in the way that the space was set-up and arranged for events. MPavilion 2021 acted as an open stage with no implied or explicit division or hierarchy among participants, drawing people in and around it and welcoming intentional and incidental visitors alike.
With their design for MPavilion 2021, MAP studio played with the notion of an abstract volume that sits comfortably in its broader environment. They envisaged the Lightcatcher as a powerful attractor, a stand-out display of the creative and dynamic aspects of the city of Melbourne. An innovative mix of materials, the structure comprises a reticular steel structure in galvanized and painted tubular profiles that house a set of panels in a mirror-finish aluminium coating. This three-dimensional lattice is supported by four u-shaped pillars made of precast reinforced concrete. The Lightcatcher appears to float, suspended above the bright yellow, organically-shaped surface below. A circular kiosk in a matching colour palette provided a simple hospitality offering and storage for services and AV equipment.

The Lightcatcher truly re-energising and reinvigorating Melbourne’s creative and cultural life. With its playful design, vibrant colour palette and iridescent quality, it stood as a beacon of joy and renewed hope, evoking a sense delight among all who crossed its path. With the MPavilion 2021’s season now complete, the Lightcatcher will be moved to a new permanent location within Victoria, to continue to be enjoyed by the community.