Tadao Ando unveils MPavilion built on “pure engineering”

Tadao Ando unveils MPavilion built on “pure engineering”

Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando has designed a pavilion covered in aluminum discs as the 10th Pavilion in Melbourne, Australia.

The Japanese architect’s first-ever project in Australia, the concrete pavilion was designed as a space for contemplation of the surrounding Queen Victoria Gardens.

The 10th MPavilion was designed by Tadao Ando

“The design of the MPavilion began with the desire to find a scene of timelessness within Melbourne’s oasis, Queen Victoria Gardens,” Ando said.

“To reflect the dynamic nature of the site, like a blank canvas, I imagined an architecture of emptiness.”

Reflecting pond at Tadao Ando Pavilion
It is topped with a large disc supported by a central concrete column

The center of the pavilion, commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, is built around a large concrete column supporting a 4.4-metre-tall disc.

The aluminum-clad disc covers a perimeter space enclosed by two concrete walls.

Reflecting pool inside MPavilion
The reflecting pool occupies half of the interior space

The walls are laid out in facing squares, enclosing the space with two entrances created between them. Through the walls and disc, Ando aimed to use geometric shapes to create a space for contemplation.

“Pure geometry defines the composition of this design,” he explained. “The ancient Egyptians used basic geometry to create organized spaces and structures in the natural world.”

He continued: “Geometry formed the basis of philosophical study in ancient Greece. It is an expression of the human mind and the pursuit of ethereal space.”

“With the circle and the square, the void is given form. The void, in its silence, allows light and wind to enter and breathe life into the space.”

The space, which will be used for the five-month MPavilion series of events, was half paved, with a reflecting pool taking up the rest of the space.

Two 17-metre-long slits were cut into the concrete walls to connect the pavilion to the surrounding gardens and city.

Concrete pavilion in Queen Victoria Gardens
Openings within the walls are designed to connect the space to the park

Although Ando did not visit the site of the pavilion, he drew on his experience of Australian architecture, including a trip to the Sydney Opera House.

“I haven’t visited the site, but Australia and the architecture of Australia had a huge influence on me,” Ando said.

He continued: “When I first visited Australia in the 1980s and saw the Sydney Opera House, I thought: This is architecture.”

“I realized that experiencing different cultures through architecture and the desire to create something new, even within a completely different cultural context, can be a powerful force.”

Geometric Pavilion by Tadao Ando
The pavilion has clear geometric shapes

Ando Pavilion is the 10th pavilion of the MPavilion, with previous versions designed by architects including OMA, Amanda Levitt and Studio Mumbai.

“I am impressed and fascinated by what Naomi Milgrom has created in Melbourne with MPavilion,” Ando said.

“We share the belief that architecture should contribute to public life and can contribute in meaningful ways to society, especially by encouraging social interaction.”

Last year’s pavilion was a bright orange fabric structure designed by Bangkok-based studio All(zone).

Photography by John Gollings.

MPavilion takes place from November 16 to March 28, 2024. Check out Dezeen’s events guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

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