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Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s concrete design aims to connect people with nature

The canopy of plane trees frames the open roof and is reflected in the pool, while behind the pool and the paving stones, and horizontal gaps in two of the 17-metre walls allows the trees and grass inside.

A low concrete bench allows for contemplation, as do the scattering of wooden stools, a commission from Davidov Architects of their Unique Circle | Square chairs.

“Sky, water and people become one” at MPavilion 10, architect Tadao Ando says.Credit: John Gollings

Speaking from Japan, Ando, the 82-year-old Osaka-based architect said: “In Melbourne, I imagined architecture that could inspire people to realise the wonder of nature surrounding them. A pavilion where the sky, water and people become one.

“I hope the people of Melbourne and throughout Australia will further contemplate the nature of architecture from the experience here. It should touch and connect human hearts and leave those who gather here feeling better about today.”

He revealed that the two narrow horizontal slits allowing visitors to look north to the city and south to the gardens were a late engineering challenge.

“I enjoy adding an extra touch that gives people joy,” Ando said in an earlier interview.


Sean Godsell, who designed the first MPavilion, circled back to become executive architect to realise Ando’s design in Melbourne.

“He wants you to arrive and discover, pause and reflect and then leave,” Godsell said.

“He’s enticing you, seducing you and holding you with this microcosm of nature.”

”We share a resounding reverence for nature. We also embrace the individuality of detail in a time when architecture has been muted by globalisation,” Godsell added. “We both believe architecture can serve the community. Most of all, we believe in the capacity for architecture to move people, to touch their hearts.”

MPavilion 10 will host 10 commissions across art, food, design and literature, craft, music and theatre, hosting 185 events before it is disassembled on March 28.

Several very different artistic endeavours inspired by the grey concrete forms were commissioned, including Deborah Cheetham Fraillon’s 10th composition to the Wominjeka Song Cycle as well as grey ice cream from Brazilian artist João Loureiro and Piccolina Gelateria.

Milgrom said a decade ago, she had embarked on an experiment in the heart of Melbourne.

“We asked ourselves: could we use the power of architecture and design to bring people together? To create a community and to facilitate a meaningful debate about how architecture and design could flourish.”


She reeled off the stats: 1.25 million visitors in the first decade, 69 national and international design awards. Seven MPavilions were relocated to new permanent locations in communities around Victoria. And 4000 collaborators in cultural performances and events.

“These pavilions come to life through the collective creativity that permeates them. They serve as vital meeting places in the cultural and community life of our city. And through collaborations and partnerships we can create a type of utopia where people can gather, learn, contemplate and discover. ”

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