MPavilion, Melbourne

OMA founder Rem Koolhaas and colleague David Gianotten have unveiled plans to create a reconfigurable amphitheater topped by a translucent, floating roof for this year’s MPavilion in Melbourne. The two architects plan to create a “theatre for ideas” in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens for the fourth edition of MPavilion, an annual commission billed as Australia’s answer to London’s Serpentine Pavilion.

This will comprise a circular performance space embedded into the park’s verdant landscape, with both seating elements and a roof that can be adapted to suit different activities. Koolhaas wants the project to become a model for how architecture can act as a trigger for activity in a city, particularly in Australia, which he describes as “an almost perfect society, but lacking in intensity”. “It’s not without ambition, it’s the kind of project that hopes to provoke a real discussion about what architecture can do in a context like Australia.

To accommodate this “intensity”, part of the pavilion’s seating will be able to rotate – so it can either face inwards, or out towards the park. Similarly, the building’s roof will incorporate lighting and other technological features, meaning it will be able to offer what Gianotten describes as “all kinds of technical and fun possibilities”. This roof will consist of a two-meter-high grid structure made from aluminum-coated steel, infilled with translucent panels. “The building is more or less a roof, under which we have an amphitheater that can be transformed in different configurations,” explained Gianotten, who is OMA’s managing partner architect.

“By rotating part of this amphitheater fully open towards the city, we create pockets where different activities can play a role, but where also suddenly the park – with the city as its backdrop – can be the scene for activity and debate. “Indigenous plants and flowers will surround the exterior of the structure to help it blend in with its setting.