Initiated by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, the MPavilion is an annual commission that invites an internationally renowned architect to create a space for interactions and creative collaborations in Melbourne, Australia.
Taking form in the shape of a temporary structure in Queen Victoria Gardens, in the midst of the city’s art district, the MPavilion in 2015 was designed by British architect Amanda Levete and in 2014 by Australian architect Sean Godsell. In its third year, the Foundation invited Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai, whose pavilion exemplifies his practice’s firm belief and experimentation with hand-made architecture.
The Studio’s pursuits are based on the notion of lore – a body of traditions and knowledge passed from person to person by word of mouth – with a strong emphasis on the act of making. Jain elaborates that his intent for the Pavilion was to create an “egalitarian space that celebrates the idea of ground and sky, east, west, north and south, and to find an angle of repose within that”.
The 2016 MPavilion is not only the first time that an Indian architect has created a public space in Australia, but is also the largest bamboo structure to be built in the country. Jain chose to work with bamboo because of its robustness, versatility and because “it allows us to be; you know you are looking at bamboo but you experience everything but the bamboo”.
With bamboo used extensively for scaffoldings at construction sites across India, it also forms a culturally appropriate choice of material for creating a space that is temporal in its nature and flexible in its programme.
Occupying a footprint of 18m x 18m, the Pavilion follows a formal grid and incorporates a large space in the centre. The bamboo structure is topped by an undulating roof, which dips sharply towards the ground at the four corners, and provides a strong sense of enclosure while offering changing views of the surrounding gardens. An off-centre puncture through the roof acts as a light-well while also bringing in parts of the sky into the Pavilion.
Directly beneath it is a gold-leaf clad well that taps into the water-table below – highlighting the importance of water to traditional communities while also connecting the ground to the sky. It is also appropriated as a pivotal point in the central space, around which the MPavilion hosts a series of cultural programs and interdisciplinary activities.
Text And Photos By Kunal Bhatia