Virtual Design Festival

MPavilion and VDF present a day of talks with Amanda Levete, Bijoy Jain, Sean Godsell and more

In the first part of Virtual Design Festival's collaboration with MPavilion, Dezeen is broadcasting a programme of video conversations between architects Amanda Levete, Bijoy Jain and Sean Godsell as well as curators Julia Peyton-Jones and Naomi Milgrom.

The programme of talks brings together the principals of the architecture firms behind Melbourne's yearly MPavilions – a programme of annual summer pavilions in Melbourne's Queen Victoria Gardens commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.

VDF's collaboration with MPavilion coincides with the launch of a book compiling the six MPavilions to date.

The book, titled MPavilion: Encounters with Design and Architecture, was to be launched at the Venice Architecture Biennale in May this year, but the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Virtual Design Festival teams up with MPavilion for a day of talks
MPavilion's collaboration with VDF coincides with the release of a book collecting all of the contributions to the architectural commission to date

The videos feature a series of conversations between architects including Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten of Rotterdam firm OMA, Amanda Levete of London practice AL_A, Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai, Carme Pinós of Barcelona-based Estudio Carme Pinós, and Australian architects Glenn Murcutt and Sean Godsell.

These conversations follow a discussion between Naomi Milgrom, founder of the MPavilion initiative, and Julia Peyton-Jones, former director of the Serpentine Gallery in London and instigator of the Serpentine Pavilion programme.

The programme of videos will be viewable below as well as on Dezeen's Facebook and YouTube channels, beginning with a conversation between Milgrom and Peyton-Jones at 9am UK time. Subsequent interviews between architects will premiere throughout the day at hourly intervals.

These talks will be followed by a further programme of videos in the afternoon including a conversation between Jain, Koolhaas and Gianotten, then Gianotten in conversation with Pinós, followed by Pinós speaking to Milgrom, before ending with a discussion between Godsell and Murcutt.






Introduction by Sydney Design Festival creative director Stephen Todd

In a short introductory video, Todd provides an overview of the conversations that will be broadcast over the course of the day, and details each of the six MPavilions that have been created between 2014 and 2019.



Naomi Milgrom in conversation with Julia Peyton-Jones, 9:00am UK time

In the first talk of the day, Milgrom and Peyton-Jones discuss the MPavilion and Serpentine Pavilion commissions, and interrogate the purpose and potential of temporary architectural structures.

When devising MPavilion, Milgrom drew inspiration from the prestigious Serpentine Pavilion commission, which Peyton-Jones inaugurated during her 25-year directorship at the Serpentine Gallery. The project gave architects including Zaha HadidPeter ZumthorSANAA and Frank Gehry their first opportunity to build in the UK.



Sean Godsell in conversation with Amanda Levete, 10:00am UK time

In the second talk of the day Godsell, who designed the first MPavilion in 2014 speaks to Levete, who designed its second instalment. The architects discuss how open dialogue between architects, legislators and developers is necessary in order to enable changes in the way cities are designed.

Godsell's inaugural response to the commission was a rectilinear pavilion with automated walls that fold up to open the interior out to the surrounding gardens.

Levete's MPavilion, completed in 2015, consisted a canopy of overlapping fibreglass petals supported on slender columns.


Amanda Levete in conversation with Bijoy Jain, 11:00am UK time

In the third talk of the day, Levete speaks to Indian architect and Bijoy Jain, founder of Studio Mumbai, about the viability of high-rise dwellings in a post-coronavirus world, the importance of bringing nature into buildings, and the need to prioritise generosity and wellbeing over efficiency in urban design.

Jain's 2016 contribution to the MPavilion commission was a square structure supported by an intricate bamboo framework pinned together with wooden pegs.

About MPavilion

MPavilion is Australia's leading architectural commission, helmed by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.

Since its inception in 2014, a different architect is selected each year to design a pavilion for the Queen Victoria Gardens in Melbourne, which then hosts a season of free events.

Published by Thames & Hudson and designed by Studio Ongarato, the book MPavilion: Encounters with Design and Architecture will be available from 3 August. For pre-sales please visit

About Virtual Design Festival

Virtual Design Festival runs from 15 April to 10 July 2020 and is sponsored by bathroom and kitchen manufacturer Grohe. It brings the architecture and design world together to celebrate the culture and commerce of our industry, and explore how it can adapt and respond to extraordinary circumstances.

To find out what's coming up at VDF, check out the schedule. For more information or to join the mailing list, email [email protected].