Signalling a return to the pre-pandemic cultural vibrancy for which Melbourne is renowned, a kaleidoscopic light-reflecting cube has popped up in the city’s Queen Victoria Gardens. Aptly titled The Lightcatcher, the installation was designed by acclaimed architects Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel of Venice-based MAP studio for MPavilion 2021. The beacon-like piece, now open for public enjoyment, is the result of a commission by Naomi Milgrom AC, founder of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, who feels particularly proud of this year’s presentation – the seventh of its kind in an ongoing series of architect-designed summertime pavilions made specifically for Melbourne.
“Delivering The Lightcatcher under such challenging global circumstances is a testament to both the remarkable minds behind the design and the teams who realised its construction,” Naomi says of the shared achievement MPavilion 2021 represents. “[This year’s] inspirational pavilion is poised to reinvigorate our city as it plays host for the summer to the energy and ideas of hundreds of designers, architects and performances who will create, work and play underneath.”
MPavilion 2021 in Melbourne by MAP studio
Well-known for responding to storied sites in a way that is considered both “sensitive and celebratory”, MAP studio’s MPavilion is a cheerful way to welcome back Melbourne’s cultural pulse. Formed into an abstract cube, with an open steel structure that’s perched on four U-shaped concrete columns, the mirrored panels of the installation playfully reflect and amplify the activity of people who visit, as well as the ever-changing garden environment. As the designers suggest, the dazzling effect created by the combination of light, movement and mirrors will make The Lightcatcher a sort of “urban lighthouse” in the heart of the city.
“In our minds, the kaleidoscope structure takes on a double meaning of an urban lighthouse to gather people around as an expression of new hope and to glitter our minds into appreciating new horizons,” says architect Traudy Pelzel from MAP studio. “But it’s also a kind of warning. It is not a shelter in nature as the previous pavilions were, but an element of amplification of human activities in nature as a metaphor of man’s current condition – inspiring an aspect of new awareness of this fragile situation.”
Championing local Australian talent, fashion designer Erik Yvonhas has designed this year’s MPavilion staff uniform; Nüüd Studio won the commission to design the MPavilion 2021 chair (named the ‘Dancer’); and Like Butter has designed a periscope-inspired seating installation in collaboration with MUSK Architecture Studio. But what happens to MPavilion 2021 at the end of the season? Designed as both a temporary pavilion and an enduring architectural gesture, each iteration of MPavilion is gifted to the people of Victoria and moved to a permanent home, adding to Melbourne’s increasingly sophisticated architectural landscape.
In 2021-22, MPavilion celebrates its longest-ever season of programming with over 400 events, including talks, workshops, performances, family-friendly experiences, community projects and installations. MPavilion 2021 is open until 24 April 2022.
In our minds, the kaleidoscope structure takes on a double meaning of an urban lighthouse to gather people around as an expression of new hope and to glitter our minds into appreciating new horizons.