MPavilion 2016 by Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai


Bijoy Jain, founder of architectural practice Studio Mumbai, designed the third MPavilion—open in Melbourne, Australia from October 4 2016 - February 18, 2017. 

Founded in 2014, MPavilion is a unique architecture commission and design event for Melbourne. Initiated by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation with support from City of Melbourne and the Victorian State Government, every year for four years an outstanding architect will be commissioned to design a temporary pavilion for the Queen Victoria Gardens, in the centre of Melbourne’s Southbank Arts Precinct. An event hub, a meeting place and an invitation to experiment, each MPavilion brings creative collaborators together to present a free, four-month program of talks, workshops, performances and installations from October to February over summer. The third iteration of MPavilion following Sean Godsell (2014) and Amanda Levete (2015) designed by Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai. 
The architect
Bijoy Jain (1965 - )

Bijoy Jain was born in 1965 and grew up in Juhu on the coast near Mumbai. As a child was obsessed with water. He was a member of the Indian swimming team, and at the age of 18 swam the English Channel.

He studied architecture in the United States, receiving his M.Arch from Washington University in St Louis, USA in 1990. He worked in Los Angeles on the Getty Centre amongst other things, and in London, before returning to India in 1995 to establish Studio Mumbai.

Studio Mumbai is unlike any other modern architecture practice. The studio works collaboratively with local artisans, craftspeople and draftsmen to design and build projects through an explorative creative process. This includes large scale mock-ups, models big–and–small, material studies, sketches and drawings. The studio’s projects are developed with care and consideration of place and practise while drawing from traditional skills, local building techniques and materials, and the ingenuity that arises from limited resources. The studio’s expression in built form—and Bijoy Jain’s practice—is deeply informed by the concept of ‘lore’, defined as “a body of traditional knowledge passed on by word of mouth”.

Studio Mumbai creates architecture that ‘contains the life of its environment’ and this concept is expressed in commended projects including Copper House II (pictured).

The studio’s philosophy of local collaboration and sensitivity to the local context is manifest in its stunning headquarters in Alibag (south–west of Mumbai) and is similarly but was uniquely expressed for MPavilion 2016.

Studio Mumbai’s distinct creative process and ethos from conception to built form has received wide-reaching admiration. The studio presented at the XII Venice Biennale and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It has received awards including the Global Award in Sustainable Architecture 2009; Finland’s Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award 2012; the BSI Swiss Architecture Award 2012; and the Grande Medaille d’Or 2014 from the Academie D’Architecture in Paris. Bijoy Jain has taught in Copenhagen, at the Yale School of Architecture and the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture.

MPavilion commissioner Naomi Milgrom explaining her decision to commission Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai to design the 2016 MPavilion.

The process

Architect Bijoy Jain speaking about his commission for MPavilion 2016.

Exploring ideas around handmade architecture and the craft of building at its most basic, bamboo, stone and rope was used to create a pavilion that was both elemental and

MPavilion 2016 was a 16.8 x 16.8 metre bamboo pavilion with an elaborate gateway ‘tazia’ (illustrated in blue) used in Indian ceremonies which sits adjacent to the pavilion.

MPavilion 2016's covered space measured 16.8m x 16.8m and has a suspended ceiling with an oculus or central opening to the sky above.

The bluestone for the MPavilion 2016 floor was sourced from the Bamstone quarry in Port Fairy, Victoria (about four hours' drive west of Melbourne).

Jain is interested in the concept of ‘lore’ – the body of traditions and knowledge of a subject held by a particular group, typically passed from person to person by word of mouth.

This concept was integral to the 2016 build, which Bijoy elaborated on in the lead up the opening of the pavilion.

Prior to construction, Studio Mumbai worked on several handmade prototypes in their workshop outside of Mumbai.

Bijoy Jain leads a team of skilled artisans and craftspeople to create buildings based on human competences, local building techniques, materials and an ingenuity arising from limited resources. Projects are realised through an extensive process of model making, material studies and sketches, and careful consideration of the surrounding environment.

An early MPavilion 2016 prototype.

A Studio Mumbai craftsperson prepares a Karvi stem, sourced from a plant near their workshop which flowers once every eight years—these stems were sourced from the once-in-eight-year harvest.

Untreated Karvi stems.

Once treated, craftspeople tie the pieces to form the roof panel prototypes that eventually became the roof panels of MPavilion 2016.

The rope used for the panels were treated via a traditional dyeing process.

Stacks of the roof panels ready for the prototype.

A timelapse of the prototyping process from Studio Mumbai's workshop.

The final prototype of MPavilion 2016 at Studio Mumbai's workshop.

MPavilion 2016's roof panels leave Studio Mumbai

Studio Mumbai's bamboo columns loaded onto a shipping container bound for Melbourne.

The roof panels arrive in Melbourne.

A detail of a Karvi panel, which is a natural material that stems from a plant near Studio Mumbai that flowers once every eight years. This year's build was in luck—as it flowered in 2016.

Before construction, Studio Mumbai placed these coconuts before the construction team broke ground—following in a long Indian tradition of having coconuts on a building site to bring good luck.

An early construction view with the roof scaffolding in place.

Pictured beneath the scaffolding is a close-up of some of the Manila Rope used in the 2016 build—which ran to over 6,000kms.

As part of the construction process, we had members of the public come along and learn a 'lashing' workshop fastening the various bamboo joints of MPavilion 2016 in place.

The traditional rope techniques used across the structure start with a simple knot: a clove hitch. After that it is square lashings, and lots of them.

A view from inside the roof of MPavilion 2016 before it was covered over. Here's a small cross-section featuring the hundreds of bamboo intersections that make up the entire MPavilion.

A view of the MPavilion 2016 roof skeleton.

A partial view of the roof during the process of it being covered over.

A view of the Karvi roof panels before they were weather-proofed with canvas.

Watch the whole construction process in less than a minute.

MPavilion 2016 revealed

MPavilion 2016 architect, Bijoy Jain:

Having been commissioned to do the MPavilion I’m now enjoying the open expansiveness to what this pavilion can be – the idea for me is that its central to the idea of a pavilion – in fact the intention of the endeavour. This idea to explore possibilities that are not necessarily limited to place, objects and things or more importantly be more inclusive - that MPavilion shares fundamental cultural values that are not necessarily Australian, Indian or American but that is something we all universally share. For me these are the things that are crucial to the idea of MPavilion.

MPavilion 2016 architect, Bijoy Jain:

Materials, proportions, the bespoke nature of the MPavilion project – for me the interest is in everyday things that we often dismiss/ become familiar with - it’s the idea of moving between the familiar and unfamiliar. Its about work calibration and how work is calibrated amongst a team of architects, craftsmen engineers – I am more like a conductor of an orchestra where I think what’s important, is to draw the strength or see the talent and draw that out – I’m calling that material too - not just a physical tangible material but the cross-pollination of the physical object. The physical material itself but also the hand and the body that makes it. Not necessarily what’s made by hand but that culture transfer that makes what we do and how we make things.

MPavilion 2016 architect, Bijoy Jain (continued):

The idea of “caring” in architecture – whatever we do - whether its architecture, write music, or write literature, mathematics – for me what’s important is that there is thoughtfulness and attentiveness. It’s that moment of being attentive and inattentive - this idea of ebb and flow - working within that realm of understanding our own body in relationship to what’s around us. This idea of what makes space and of its relationship between two points or multiple points and this is how I translate this idea of care. The actions that I do or the things that I make in some ways is inclusive of what’s around me and thoughtful.

MPavilion 2016 architect, Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai, speaking about his philosophy behind his build during opening week.

On lookers watch a talk presented by legendary Danish urban thinker Jan Gehl for MPavilion 2016.

MPavilion pictured mid-season looking north to Melbourne's CBD.

The result of the hundreds of rope-ties making up the 2016 MPavilion.

MPavilion 2016's interior pictured with custom-built stools and tables designed by Studio Mumbai.

MPavilion by night.

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