Amanda Levete selected for second MPavilion

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Selfridges department store by Future Systems.

Selfridges department store by Future Systems. Image: Norbert Schoerner

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Proposed new courtyard to the Victoria and Albert Museum by AL_A,

Proposed new courtyard to the Victoria and Albert Museum by AL_A,

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Lord's Media Centre by AL_A.

Lord’s Media Centre by AL_A. Image: Richard Davies

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The Naomi Milgrom Foundation has selected British architect Amanda Levete to design the second MPavilion. The announcement was made during a launch held at the Hellenic Museum in Melbourne on 9 April 2015. 

Amanda Levete, principal of AL_A. Image:  Peter Guenzel

Levete, principal of her own practice AL_A, was personally chosen by Naomi Milgrom, fashion magnate and chair of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation. In announcing her chosen architect, Milgrom said, “Amanda first came to my notice through her store designs. I was deeply impressed by her radical response to the department store model,” in reference to the Selfridges Store in Birmingham designed by Futures Systems, the practice in which Levete was a co-partner, prior to AL_A. 

The Foundation gave Levete a brief for a “structure that responds to its climate and landscape.”

“We’ve approached [the brief] from two different angles: one is to create a very tree-like canopy and the other is to use man-made materials and push [the idea],” said Levete via a video message, broadcast at the launch. (Watch the video below.)

“Other aspects that we’ve been looking at is [the pavilion’s] presence at night, because the site is overlooked by high-rise buildings. We want to create an aura or glow from the roof canopy when you see it from above.

We’ve had a long history of working with boat builders and some of the greatest boat builders come from Australia. So we’ve teamed up with a yacht fabricator to develop composites to form the roof canopy.”

Levete was also invited to contribute to the programming surrounding the four-month installation of the pavilion. Her idea, in reference to her design, was to have nightly bedtime stories read to children under the “glowing” canopy to capture its “ethereal, dreamy quality.”

Levete was trained at the Architectural Association in London and worked for the office of Richard Rogers before joining Future Systems as a co-partner with her former late husband Jan Kaplický. The practice was awarded the RIBA Stirling Prize for its Lord’s Cricket Ground Media Centre project in 1999. Levete founded AL_A in 2009 and in 2011 the practice won the competition for a new entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum, a much-anticipated project due for completion in 2017. 

The 2014 MPavilion designed by Sean Godsell. Image:  Earl Carter

The annual MPavilion was launched in 2014 inspired by London’s Serpentine Pavilion concept. The inaugural MPavilion was designed by Australian architect Sean Godsell and opened in October 2014. Over a four-month period, the pavilion hosted more than 300 events, collaborated with over 200 cultural and educational institutions, designers, artists and architects.

The Godsell-designed pavilion will now be permanently relocated to to the gardens of the Hellenic Museum in Melbourne’s CBD as a gift to the City of Melbourne. Godsell said the structure of his pavilion related to a hypostyle hall (a type of construction consisting of a roof supported by a series of columns that was used by the Ancient Greeks), which made the Hellenic Museum an appropriate permanent home for his pavilion.

The second MPavilion will once again be located in the Queen Victoria Gardens opposite the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). It is due to open from 5 October, 2015 to 7 February, 2016.

The NGV will be also be hosting to its own summer pavilion commission, designed by John Wardle Architect, due to launch in September, 2015.

Read Christine Phillips’ interview with Amanda Levete.

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