MAP Studio's 'Lightcatcher' Opens in Melbourne

John Hill
2. December 2021
Photo: John Gollings

The Lightcatcher, designed by architects Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel of Venice's MAP studio, has opened in Melbourne's Queen Victoria Gardens. It is the seventh MPavilion commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.

Unlike previous iterations of the MPavilion, which were installed annually in Queen Victoria Gardens as a venue for summer-long events, MAP studio's The Lightcatcher was two years in the making, thanks, of course, to the coronavirus pandemic. Originally commissioned for the 2020 MPavilion, the realization of MAP studio's design was delayed one year, following an atypical season of programming last year in the Parkade Carpark, notably designed by Peter McIntyre in the 1960s. A statement from the Naomi Milgrom Foundation heralds The Lightcatcher as "a milestone for Melbourne, representing a significant path back to reenergizing the creative and cultural life of our city."

Photo: Anthony Richardson

The Lightcatcher is an apt name for the structure that was designed by Magnani and Pelzel and was revealed earlier this year: an open steel structure propped upon four concrete columns supports angled mirror panels that "reflect and amplify both the people and cultural activity taking place in MPavilion, and its ever-changing environment in the Queen Victoria Gardens," per the Foundation. The Italian architects, who could not attend the opening due to the ongoing pandemic, explained that "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, they continued, "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."

Photo: John Gollings

The Lightcatcher will host more than 400 in-person talks, workshops, performances, "kid-friendly experiences," community projects, and installations during its 152-day run, from November 23, 2021, to April 24, 2022. In addition to the pavilion designed by MAP studio, the 2021 MPavilion features staff uniforms designed by Erik Yvon, a specially commissioned chair, "Dancer," designed by Nüüd Studio in a competition, and a "periscope-inspired seating installation" designed by Like Butter will be installed in January. Finally, as in previous MPavilion iterations, The Lightcatcher will have a life beyond Queens Victoria Gardens: it will be gifted "to the people of Victoria" and moved to a permanent new home, with details on its permanent relocation to be determined.

Photo: Anthony Richardson

MAP studio's seventh MPavilion follows those designed by Australia's Glenn Murcutt (2019), Great Britain's Amanda Levete (2018), India's Bijoy Jain (2017), Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten (2016) from the Netherlands, Spain's Carme Pinós (2015), and the inaugural pavilion designed by Australia's own Sean Godsell.

Photo: Anthony Richardson

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