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MPavilion 2020 prioritises expanded program and reuses its six original pavilions

MPavilion 2020 prioritises expanded program and reuses its six original pavilions
November 25, 2020

In 2020, MPavilion - Australia’s leading architectural commission and design event conceived and created by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation - is responding to a year of immense global and local change by prioritising an expanded program that supports local designers and artists by reusing its six original pavilions.

At a time when artists and designers have been disadvantaged, displaced and disconnected due to COVID-19, MPavilion is adapting its operation to be more accessible to more Melburnians, while supporting new needs in a way that is efficient and sustainable.

This year, instead of building a new structure, the MPavilion 2020 program comes to life across these pavilions’ new locations—including Docklands, Melbourne Zoo, and Monash University’s Clayton campus - allowing Melburnians to enjoy free MPavilion events in more parts of the city than ever before.

Melbourne Zoo


Running from until 5th April 2021, this amplified program will continue to realise MPavilion’s mission: to foster discussion and debate about the role that design, architecture and culture have in creating cities that are liveable, creative and equitable, and to spotlight Melbourne as the creative and design capital of Australia.

MPavilion is an ongoing initiative of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation - a not-for-profit charitable organisation that exists to initiate and support great public design, architecture and cultural projects - and is supported by City of Melbourne, State Government of Victoria through Creative Victoria and Development Victoria, and ANZ.

Each year since 2014, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation has commissioned an outstanding architect to design a pavilion for the Queen Victoria Gardens, in the centre of Melbourne’s Southbank Arts Precinct. The MPavilion then becomes the focus of a free program season of cultural events and interventions, lively talks, performances, workshops, installations and child-friendly experiences.

For this year’s MPavilion 2020 program, Bates Smart is delivering a virtual event on 26th November in which a panel of Melbourne and international architecture, city design and governance experts will debate ways to adapt car parks to support Melbourne's ambition of becoming a greener, healthier and happier city.

Some of the questions put to the panel will include:

How are we planning to live in our cities in the future? What is this pandemic teaching us about how to move and live around our metropolis? What are the new opportunities? What will we do with all the space currently devoted to cars and their use?

The panel featuring Julian Anderson (Bates Smart), Rob Adams (City of Melbourne), Alessandra Cianchetta (AWP-Architecture, New York) and Sarah Gaventa (Illuminated River Foundation, London) will answer these questions as they debate how our cities will evolve, both locally and around the world to reflect global trends away from private car use and toward a future that is more sustainable and community focused.  

Bates Smart will present a series of new suggestions to improve our wellbeing, our human relationships, our connections: between each other and with nature. Starting with the car, Bates Smart has identified three specific sites in the City of Melbourne. All multi-level, off-street car parks that can benefit from re-purposing:

Experiencing the city site

Site 01: Hardware Lane (Mid City) - pictured top

Acting as an extension of the laneway, a series of ramps results in a multi-layered, vertical experience whereby functions such as working hubs and outdoor events and festivals may occur, all suited to the character of the Bourke Street shopping precinct.

The wellbeing precinct

Site 02: Lt Bourke Street (West End)  

Located near the Docklands, this car park structure would deliver a series of vertical recreational spaces, such as a park and basketball court. By doing so, this repurposed space delivers an outcome that supports healthy living within the city. 

Calming and restoring space

Site 03: Lt Bourke Street (East End)

An existing grocery store within the ground plane of this car park facing Little Bourke Street suggests future uses such as markets and food halls. The simple gestures of introducing an atrium and sculptural ramp create the opportunity of a gradation of experience from the highly active ground plane to a vegetated rooftop garden that is calming and restorative.

Bates Smart Director, Julian Anderson notes “Today, more than ever, in a historical moment where we have been left insulated, secluded, apart and socially distanced, we have noticed that connection, a sense of community, embracing neighbourhood, urban areas and public spaces – from the shared balcony to the city park – are all essential values. And people need to be at the centre of this.

“Studies demonstrate that cars create disconnection and a lonely, solitary way to live in the city. Cars are used only 36 minutes per day, while the other 95% of the time they just stand around, in car parks, unused, occupying spots and wasting a huge percentage of urban space.  

“A substantial amount of land and buildings that are set aside to accommodate immobile vehicles can be used otherwise.”

Brisbane provides 25,633 parking spaces in the CBD, Sydney 28,939 and Melbourne 41,687. However, parking is not just an Australian problem. By some estimates in Europe 30,000km² of land is devoted to parking while in the US 27,000km². All because, up to now, capitals have been designed to favour the car and a car-based experience of the city.

Various cities have adopted different strategies to reduce the presence of cars. Singapore was the first to introduce congestion charging in 1975. Followed by London in 2003, Milan in 2012, and soon New York. Where drivers will have to pay to enter the heart of Manhattan from 2021.  

The decline of vehicles entering and travelling within the city, will obviously reduce the use of parking spaces creating a series of new planning opportunities.  

Anderson explains “This combination of events will give us the possibility to design and create a better future. Our responsibility, as architects, is to re-think the structure and the use of our cities. Cities that once again can be tailored around humans. And our idea is to start with car parks, particularly the privately-owned multi-level off-street car parking.”

MPavilion 2020 program will be open free to the public until 5th April 2021

To access MTalks: A Treasure Trove of Space: Rethinking Melbourne's Car Parks for Future Use - Thursday 26th November, 1pm-2pm AEST – Virtual event; followed by live Q&A, click here.


Related Articles

24th December 2019 - Melbourne Theatre Company renews MPavilion partnership for summer program

4th October 2017 - New MPavilion opens in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens

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