MPavilion (24 01 24)

5 Minutes With: Amanda Levete, AL_A

Image by Anne Purkiss

In 2015, we invited Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete — the founder and creative force behind AL_A — to design our second pavilion.

Founded in 2009, AL_A has established a reputation as one of Britain’s leading architecture studios. Notable projects to date include the recent expansion of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; a 1.5 million-square-foot luxury mall and hotel in Bangkok; and a sweeping riverside museum of art and technology in Lisbon.

On designing the second MPavilion, Levete said: “I wanted to exploit the temporary nature of the pavilion form and produce a design that speaks in response to the weather. Rooting the pavilion in its parkland setting, I looked to create the sensation of a forest canopy in the heart of the city that gives shelter to a program of events.”

Channelling the essence of the Licuala Palm, otherwise known as the Australian Fan Palm, Levete’s structure comprised an innovative assembly of ninety-five closely grouped columns that supported forty-three horizontal, petal-like panels that gently swayed with the wind.

Following our 2015 season, Levete’s pavilion was gifted to the City of Melbourne by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation. You can visit her pavilion today at Docklands Park, located on the corner of Collins Street and Harbour Esplanade.

As we celebrate our tenth anniversary with MPavilion 10, designed by Tadao Ando, we caught up with Levete to talk about her experience designing for MPavilion almost a decade ago.

Can you tell us about your own experiences with MPavilion. Do you have any standout memories?

My outstanding memory of the whole MPavilion experience was working with Naomi. She was an exceptional and engaged client and a patron who really wanted to make a difference. She was fully supportive of our ambition to challenge what a Pavilion could be. When I said we wanted to subvert expectations and create a pavilion that moved with the wind rather than keeping it at bay and when I said we wanted to experiment with new materials – she trusted us. It is rare to work with a client who positively embraces risk taking and experimentation in the way that Naomi did.

As we celebrate our milestone decade, what would you consider to be MPavilion’s legacy?

MPavilion is a gift to the city. In its many iterations it is a meeting place that the people of Melbourne can enjoy and be inspired by for many years to come – what a legacy.

Can you share any challenges or surprises you’ve encountered during MPavilion?

Although a relatively modest project in terms of its scale, AL_A’s design for MPavilion explored the limits of things – that goes to the heart of what drives us as architects.

Wominjeka (Welcome). We acknowledge the people of the Eastern Kulin Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which MPavilion stands. We pay our respects to their Elders, past and present – and recognise they have been creating, telling stories and caring for Country for thousands of generations.

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