Melbourne is about to get a new open air amphitheatre, inspired by Ancient Greece and designed by one of the most important architects in the world, Rem Koolhaas. The downside is that this will be a temporary structure; to last from October 2017 to February 2018.
It’s all part of the MPavilion project, an initiative of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, which commissions an outstanding architect annually to design a temporary pavilion for the Queen Victoria Gardens in the centre of Melbourne’s Southbank Arts Precinct.
Each MPavilion is host to a free, four-month-long program of talks, workshops, performances, and installations.
A hub for creative individuals and organisations in Melbourne, the MPavilion spotlights the city as the creative and design capital of Australia, fostering discussion and debate about the role that design, architecture and culture have in creating a city that is liveable, creative and equitable.
It is no wonder then that the foundation chose Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of Netherlands-based practice OMA for the 2017 MPavilion. An international practice operating within the traditional boundaries of architecture and urbanism, OMA was founded in 1975 by Koolhaas along with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp.
Taking its cues from the ancient ampitheatre, MPavilion 2017 will blur the lines between inside and outside in a skilful yet empathetic manipulation of the surrounding landscape.
“MPavilion 2017 is a public venue on an intimate scale,” reads the architect statement.
“MPavilion intends to draw the community in and act as a cultural laboratory. OMA has designed a temporary structure that, along with providing space for performances, entertainment and events, can also perform itself.
“MPavilion’s ground plan is shaped by two grandstands – one fixed, the other movable. Together they determine the setup of the performance space. The larger static grandstand is excavated from the surrounding landscape and embedded in twelve different species of indigenous plants, giving a sense of the Australian setting.
“The smaller grandstand can rotate, allowing it to shift functions from seating to stage, blurring the distinction between performer and audience. As one complete structure, the sum of its parts, the pavilion becomes a modern-day amphitheatre, one that mixes the spectator and the spectacle”.
OMA’s MPavilion design seeks not only to employ the qualities of the amphitheatre, but to build on them and bring to life a flexible space that can function as a stage, tribune or even playground:
“The main infrastructure of the pavilion, adorned with lighting and hanging points, is within the floating roof, a two-metre-high mechanical grid structure made of aluminium-clad steel.
“The mechanical functions of the canopy can be activated to suit the type of event taking place; it is an open-air venue for performances, entertainment and sports. Existing of both static and dynamic elements, the pavilion allows for many configurations and can generate unexpected programming, echoing the ideals of the typology of the amphitheatre.
“With the city as a backdrop, the pavilion provokes discussion on Melbourne, its development and its surroundings.”
Construction is due to commence in August.