Bijoy Jain's new MPavilion

Author: Kenall Hill
Photography: Courtesy of Studio Mumbai

This year, Melbourne's MPavilion combines bamboo, stone, rope and earth.

Garden pavilions are so very Melbourne. Especially when conceived by internationally renowned architects and employed as design and events hubs for the culturally curious.

That, in a nutshell, is the point of MPavilion, the annual architectural commission that this year will involve a 12-metre tower of bamboo, stone, rope and earth taking shape in Queen Victoria Gardens, opposite the Melbourne Arts Centre.

The 2016 pavilion is the work of US-trained Indian architect Bijoy Jain, whose craftsmen have toiled for six months at his Studio Mumbai practice over models and prototypes of the tower, similar to a tazia, a typical feature of Indian ceremonies.

"It is an imaginary building that reaches deep into the stars, so it is otherworldly, and through it you can see the stars, the sky, other dimensions," Jain says of his d├ębut Australian work.

Studio Mumbai is known for adapting age-old skills such as stonemasonry and carpentry to contemporary architectural projects. "There's a lineage of carpentry and masonry, building with high skill and great efficiency, that's specific to India and I am transferring that ideology to projects around the world," Jain says. His previous notable commissions include installations at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale and at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Jain hopes his Australian pavilion will become "a place of engagement" for visitors, who will be entertained at the site by a series of performances, talks and workshops for four months between October and February. As with the previous two MPavilions, designed by Sean Godsell and Amanda Levete, Jain's structure will be given a permanent home in Melbourne once its run in the gardens ends.

The MPavilion project was conceived by retail magnate Naomi Milgrom and inspired by the Serpentine Gallery pavilion project in London's Kensington Gardens. "The MPavilion 2016 will be a building of beauty and wonder, and one that reminds us that good design can transcend the aesthetic and functional to create an emotional and spiritual experience," says Milgrom.

MPavilion is open to the public from 5 October 2016 to 18 February 2017; 

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