A handmade architectural pavilion comprising seven kilometres of bamboo has opened in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens.

Designed by Indian architect Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai, Mpavilion 2016 is the third annual summer architecture pavilion commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation and will be open for a four-month public program of over 400 talks, workshops, performances and installations from October to February. 

Encapsulating Jain’s ongoing interest in traditional craftsmanship and human connectedness, the 16.8sqm pavilion comprises seven kilometres of bamboo, 50t of stone and 26km of rope and was constructed using traditional Indian building methods.

The pavilion introduces Australia to ‘karvi’ panels which, similar to a wattle and daub form of construction, are constructed using a traditional Indian technique whereby a mix of cow dung and earth are tied to the bamboo structure and covered in a waterproof white lime.

The karvi panels are used on the pavilion’s awning and roof and have been developed by Jain and his team of craftsmen in India over the past six months.

According to Jain, the panels are integral to the intention of the pavilion which attempts to express the connection between earth, sky and the shared gravity that connects all humans. The panels will supposedly aid this outcome because of what they represent and where they’re placed - the earth and suspended in the air.

“For me it was important to connect the idea of ground, sky and earth, and within this there is all the elements of light, water, air...[the idea is] to make a cross sectional cut where you locate it to that place but also outside its context,” suggests Jain.

“What we’re doing in this process is making it tangible so that we can physically inhabit the thought”

Photography by John Gollings

The finished pavilion does differ slightly from original designs which featured a large ‘tazia’ entrance tower situated on its roof. The tower has been relocated to the ground adjacent to the pavilion and instead an opening at the centre of the pavilion’s roof has been left to depict a “golden well” symbolising the importance of water to place and community.

The elaborate ‘tazia’ entrance tower, as used in Indian ceremonies, sits next to the pavilion as a welcoming gesture. 

MPavilion features lighting design by Ben Cobham of Bluebottle. Activated at twilight every night,  the pavilion will be lit in-synch with a specially commissioned nightly soundscape by  artists Geoff  Nees and J David Franzke.

The MPavilion 2016 program is presented free to the public from 5 October 2016 to 18 February 2017and features more than 400 public events with more than 300 collaborators, including 32 education and cultural organisations from Melbourne and around the world.

MPavilion 2016 opens as part of the Melbourne Festival and Confluence: Festival of India and will participate in events such as the new Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (Asia TOPA), Melbourne Music Week, White Night and the India Leadership Summit through the popular MTalks, MMeets, MMusic, MProjects and MKids event series.

Photography by John Gollings