Glenn Murcutt: Architect’s Statement
The MPavilion is firstly a real pavilion: historically, a pavilion is a tent, a light and temporary building. I felt a crisp white building that at night could be lit from within its roof—like a lantern in the Queen Victoria Gardens, giving the pavilion a feeling of lightness, would sit comfortably in the location. The pavilion is designed so that it can also be very easily dismantled and relocated.
I think that the pavilion needed to address the city, so that from within the building you could view the gardens, and beyond to the river, and the city: a foreground, a middle ground and the distant ground. Having the pavilion face north, open towards the river, I could work with good climatic conditions. With the sun at 76 degrees at noon thereabouts at summertime it achieves shade, and combined with the northern aspect, it was logical to extend the building beyond the existing square grid foundation.
When I was designing the pavilion, during the very early period, I recalled a trip I made in Mexico about thirty years ago, to the Yaxchilán ruins, which were being restored at the time. I had been invited to see the ruins with a small group and we travelled by light aircraft to an airfield slotted amongst the tropical jungle. For lunch, we had a picnic in the shade provided by the wing of the aircraft. In the high humidity of the tropical climate we laid out a tablecloth on the ground establishing ‘place’. After lunch, I put my rucksack against the aircraft’s under carriage and laid down, and there above me was the beautiful wing, lined with aircraft fabric—which led me to the MPavilion’s roof—with the tablecloth as my place, together with my view the Yaxchilán, and the surrounding forest it was a wonderful moment. There was my beginning of the pavilion. The MPavilion has a flap along the edge of the roof, like the aileron on an aircraft wing, which allows the fabric membrane to stretch over it and shed water.
To me it was amazing that this single engine, small aircraft made of wood and aircraft fabric had not only taken me all that way but had also created, from these light materials, a temporary place for me to sit with in the shade and towards the view of the stone ruin, much like the MPavilion will.
“Glenn’s fifty-year practice has inspired a new movement in thinking about climate-responsive design. His MPavilion refines the Australian characteristics we’ve all come to love about his buildings, and provokes a conversation about how Australian design can lead a growing international conversation about the future of cities.”
Naomi Milgrom AO, chair of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, who commissioned Glenn Murcutt to design MPavilion 2019.
“The City of Melbourne is a proud supporter of MPavilion and its contribution to our vibrant creative community. The choice of Glenn Murcutt as the architect of this year is especially exciting and enhances Melbourne’s enviable reputation as a design capital. MPavilion’s season of free events and talks on arts, architecture, science and technology makes it one of the highlights of spring and summer for Melburnians and visitors alike.”
Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne Sally Capp.
During the Opening Weekend events, Glenn Murcutt will appear in conversation with Naomi Milgrom and journalist and author Virginia Trioli on Saturday 16 November, 3.30–4.30pm. Murcutt will also speak in conversation with architect Shelley Penn at the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne School of Design on Thursday 13 November, 7–8pm.
Murcutt’s design has inspired MPavilion’s program themes for its 2019/20 season of free events: Nov—Australian Design: Identity and Cultural Collaboration; Dec—Connection: Instruments of Harmonious Living; Jan—Unplugged: Energy Without Electricity; Feb—Earth: A Place of Reconciliation, a Reconciliation of Place; and Mar—Knowledge: Shared Learning, Shared Power.
The MPavilion 2019 season of free events features hundreds of international and local collaborators, spanning talks, workshops, performances, kid-friendly experiences and community projects. This year, MPavilion continues its BLAKitecture series of Indigenous design forums, and welcomes its 2019 Artist in Residence, Beci Orpin, who has also designed the MPavilion 2019 Kiosk staff uniform in collaboration with The Social Studio. Renowned Melbourne designer Chris Connell has designed the ‘MP Stool’ in collaboration with grazia&co for use at MPavilion during the season and will also be leading a drawing workshop Thursday 28 November, 6-7pm.
MPavilion 2019 is designed as both a temporary summer pavilion and an enduring architectural creation. At the end of each season, MPavilion is gifted to the people of Victoria and moved to a permanent new home to be engaged by the community in perpetuity, creating an ongoing legacy in Melbourne’s increasingly sophisticated architectural landscape.