This week, Australia’s Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate marks another milestone in his 50-year career: Glen Murcutt’s 2,500-square-foot MPavilion opens to the public November 14, 2019, in the Queen Victoria Gardens in Melbourne.
Inspired by his memories of resting in the shade of a small airplane’s fabric-covered wing, Murcutt designed a steel-framed structure topped by a seemingly aeronautical white canopy roof. Curved trusses wrapped in a translucent tensile fabric form the 13-foot roof, from which panels of a synthetic material used in aircrafts are hung, creating the 8-foot high ceiling. At night, concealed LEDs illuminate the canopy, which Murcutt described as “a lantern in the Queen Victoria Gardens, giving the pavilion a feeling of lightness.”
The 80- by 30-foot rectangular structure is open on its two long sides, though retractable blinds along the south elevation can be lowered as weather conditions require. Melbourne designer Chris Connell created red, stackable steel stools with tube frame legs and steel mesh seats for the pavilion, which will host talks, workshops, performances, installations, and other public programming throughout the Australian summer. Their bright color contrasts with the bright white canopy, and symbolizes the country’s red earth.
Known for his environmentally sensitive design sensibility, Murcutt’s most significant works include the recently completed Australian Islamic Centre (with architect Hakan Elevli) in Melbourne, as well as the Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Centre (1999, with architects Wendy Lewin and Reg Lark) and several houses in New South Wales.
Now in its sixth year, the annual MPavilion commission is the flagship program of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, which was established in 2014 with the goal of enriching Australian cultural life through art, architecture, and design. Like the Serpentine Pavilion in London, the MPavilion is a temporary summertime installation, with a new architect chosen each year. Past designers include Amanda Levete (2015), Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten (2017), and Carme Pinós (2018). Ultimately, each pavilion is relocated to a permanent home. Murcutt’s design will remain in the Queen Victoria Gardens through March 22, 2020.