MPavilion 2021 opens

After two life-altering years in the making, MPavilion 2021 – The Lightcatcherdesigned by globally acclaimed architects Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel of MAP studio (Venice), opened in the Queen Victoria Gardens. Renowned for responding to existing sites in a way that is both sensitive and celebratory, MAP studio’s MPavilion heralds a milestone for Melbourne, representing a significant path back to re-energising the creative and cultural life of our city. 

A mirrored kaleidoscopic cube featuring an open steel structure on four u-shaped concrete columns, The Lightcatcher was conceived as an urban lighthouse – the angled mirrored panels acting as a container of ideas that reflect and amplify both the people and cultural activity taking place in MPavilion, and its ever-changing environment in the Queen Victoria Gardens. Commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, The Lightcatcher is the seventh in an ongoing series of architect-designed summer pavilions made specifically for Melbourne.

Architect Traudy Pelzel from MAP studio said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to do such a relevant project for Melbourne and its cultural activity, although we are saddened not to be with you all. Still, we hope to come soon. In our minds, the kaleidoscope structure takes on a double meaning of an urban lighthouse to gather people around as an expression of new hope and to glitter our minds into appreciating new horizons. But it’s also a kind of warning. It is not a shelter in nature as the previous pavilions were, but an element of amplification of human activities in nature as a metaphor of man’s current condition – inspiring an aspect of new awareness of this fragile situation.” 

Naomi Milgrom AC founder of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, who commissioned MAP studio (Venice) to design MPavilion 2021 said, “We are incredibly proud of our partnership with MAP studio. Delivering ‘The Lightcatcher’ under such challenging global circumstances is a testament to both the remarkable minds behind the design and the teams who realised its construction. Their inspirational MPavilion is poised to re-invigorate our city as it plays host for the summer to the energy and ideas of hundreds of designers, architects and performances that will create, work and play underneath.” 

In 2021, MPavilion celebrates its longest-ever season of programming, featuring a range of international and local collaborations, the slate includes over 400 in-person events, spanning talks, workshops, performances, kid-friendly experiences, community projects and installations.

For the opening weekend, Melbourne Music Week takes over MPavilion for a full three days of programmed events. On Friday 3 December, festivities commence with Wominjeka! – a specially curated evening of music by proud Noongar women Bumpy. A Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony will be presented by the Wurundjeri Corporation, followed by performances featuring Emma Donovan & The Putbacks, Squid Nebula, Kee’ahn, Izy, dj pgz, and Murrundaya Yepengna Dance Troup.

Five Melbourne Music Week events will continue across the weekend, including A Mindful Morning with Rich Moffat & Alex Albrecht; an Afternoon in Naarm with First Nations artists spanning acoustic, hip hop, pop, storytelling and spoken word; an evening of transcendent dance with Dutty and Tribqu – a 90-minute sound healing performance – and Sunday afternoon celebrations with Push Records.

This year, MPavilion will also continue its BLAKitecture series of Indigenous design forums; launch the inaugural Melbourne flight of Skywhalepapa by renowned visual artist Patricia Piccinini and will provide the best venue in town for a few lucky couples to literally tie the knot at MPavilion in April.  

Further collaborators to the MPavilion program include Space SaloonSECRETARYMelbourne FringeOutwst; Agency ProjectsAustralian Centre for Contemporary Art; Australian Institute of Architects; TarraWarra Museum of Art; Australian Tapestry Workshop; and the Melbourne Theatre Company.  

Championing Australian design, fashion designer Erik Yvon has designed the annual MPavilion staff uniform; Nüüd Studio won the commission to design the MPavilion 2021 chair the ‘Dancer’; and Like Butter has designed a periscope-inspired seating installation in collaboration with MUSK Architecture Studio, which will come to lie in January. And for the third year in a row, MPavilion is mentoring M_Curators, a talented group of young up-and-coming curators who each help shape the forthcoming season.  

MPavilion is designed as both a temporary summer pavilion and an enduring architectural creation. At the end of each season, MPavilion is gifted to the people of Victoria and moved to a permanent new home to be engaged by the community in perpetuity, creating an ongoing legacy in Melbourne’s increasingly sophisticated architectural landscape.    

For further information including program times, please visit 

More green updates