MPavilion 2019, designed by leading Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, recently opened at the Queen Victoria Gardens in Melbourne.

An ongoing initiative of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, organised with support from the City of Melbourne, Victorian State Government through Creative Victoria and Development Victoria, ANZ and RACV, MPavilion kick-starts a four-month season of free events that celebrate Australian design and architecture, and engage with the community through cultural programmes, talks, performances, workshops and installations.

Each year, the Foundation commissions an outstanding architect to design a pavilion for the Queen Victoria Gardens, with the installation gifted to the people of Victoria on conclusion of the event.

The sixth in the ongoing series of architect-designed summer pavilions, MPavilion 2019 celebrates Murcutt’s 50-year professional career as an internationally influential architect reputed for his environmentally responsible designs with a distinctive Australian character. The pavilion designed by Murcutt – Australia’s only recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize – will be on display until 22 March 2020.

MPavilion 2019 was officially opened by MPavilion founder Naomi Milgrom, Murcutt and City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, with the opening event featuring a specially commissioned Welcome to Country song by Yorta Yorta soprano Deborah Cheetham, followed by the RMIT Master of Fashion (Design) Graduate Showcase.

Chair of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, Milgrom said: “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.”

Capp says: “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.”

Murcutt says: “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. Having the pavilion face north, open towards the river, I could work with good climatic conditions. This also means that from within the MPavilion one can view the gardens to the river and the city.”

Murcutt’s pavilion design reflects his longstanding interest in linear buildings that make efficient use of the site and climatic conditions. MPavilion 2019 has a rectangular plan with round steel columns supporting wing-like trusses wrapped in translucent tensile membrane, which shape a buoyant white roof that will be lit from within at night. The result is a sleek and adaptable MPavilion resting on the landscape.

The Opening Weekend events featured Murcutt in conversation with Milgrom and journalist and author Virginia Trioli, as well as with architect Shelley Penn. MPavilion’s program themes for its 2019/20 season of free events include Australian Design: Identity and Cultural Collaboration in November; Connection: Instruments of Harmonious Living in December; Unplugged: Energy Without Electricity in January; Earth: A Place of Reconciliation, a Reconciliation of Place in February; and Knowledge: Shared Learning, Shared Power in March.

At the end of each season, MPavilion is moved to a permanent new home for public display, adding to an ongoing legacy in Melbourne’s increasingly sophisticated architectural landscape.

Photographs by John Gollings