Virtual Design Festival

VDF and MPavilion present video talks with Rem Koolhaas, Carme Pinós, Glenn Murcutt and more

For the second part of Virtual Design Festival's collaboration with Melbourne's MPavilion, we present interviews with architects Bijoy Jain, Rem Koolhaas, David Gianotten, Carmé Pinos, Sean Godsell and Glenn Murcutt.

MPavilion teamed up with Virtual Design Festival to celebrate the launch of its book MPavilion: Encounters with Design and Architecture.

The book, which compiles the six MPavilions created thus far, was meant to be launched at this year's Venice Architecture Biennale but the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the MPavilion initiative began in 2014, each year a different architect has been chosen to design a pavilion for the Queen Victoria Gardens in Melbourne, which then hosts a season of free events.

MPavilion by Carme Pinós
Carme Pinós' MPavilion design from 2018. Photo is by John Gollings

Once the season is over, the pavilions are gifted to the people of Victoria and moved to new, permanent locations. Today, past architects join VDF to talk about their MPavilion designs, as well as the subject of how public space is changing because of the pandemic.

The first part of the collaboration features talks from Naomi Milgrom, founder of the MPavilion initiative, and Julia Peyton-Jones, former director of the Serpentine Gallery, followed by a conversation between architects Godsell and Levete. Levete then speaks to Jain, of Studio Mumbai.

Below, Jain is in conversation with Koolhaas and Gianotten of OMA, followed by Gianotten's interview of Pinós. The penultimate video sees Pinós in discussion with Milgrom, and we end the day with Godsell, the architect behind the first MPavilion, speaking with Murcutt, who designed the latest iteration of the pavilion.



Bijoy Jain in conversation with Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten, 12:00pm UK time

The fourth talk in MPavilion's collaboration with VDF features architects Koolhaas and Gianotten of Rotterdam firm OMA in conversation with Studio Mumbai founder Bijoy Jain.

In a recorded video chat between Mumbai and Rotterdam, the architects discuss the potential for mass migration from cities to the countryside as a potential outcome of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the need for architects to affect societal changes.

OMA designed an amphitheatre in response to the MPavilion commission in 2017, which featured a rotatable grandstand topped with a monolithic "floating" rooftop.

In the preceding year, Jain created a square structure with an awning-like roof made of an intricate bamboo framework. The structure was moved to a permanent site at Melbourne Zoo following its installation in Queen Victoria Gardens.



David Gianotten in conversation with Carme Pinós, 1:00pm UK time

Gianotten speaks to Spanish architect Carme Pinós about the threat posed to public spaces by the coronavirus in the next instalment of the interview series.

Pinós, who is the founder of Barcelona-based office Estudio Carme Pinós, followed OMA's MPavilion in 2018 with an origami-inspired structure formed of latticed timber triangles raised up over three landscape mounds.

She and Gianotten spoke of the importance of protecting and promulgating public space. "I think we need to see public space more in the relaxed environment and not only to 'consume' like a shopping mall or busy train station," Pinós said.

"Sometimes I think the MPavilion demonstrates the meetings, casuals and this kind of normality and is an example I like a lot."


Carme Pinós in conversation with Naomi Milgrom, 2:00pm UK time

The penultimate video in MPavilion's collaboration with VDF features Pinós in conversation with Milgrom, who commissioned the architect's contribution to the series.

The pair discuss their shared appreciation of Basque fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga and how his work influenced the winged design of Pinós' MPavilion. The conversation also probes Pinós' belief that the interactions that take place within a building are as important as the structure itself.



Sean Godsell in conversation with Glenn Murcutt, 3:00pm UK time

Melbourne architect Godsell, designer of the inaugural MPavilion, speaks to Sydney-based Murcutt, creator of the initiative's most recent iteration, in the final broadcast of the day.

In the video, the pair discuss the huge bushfires and devastating floods that marked the recent Australian summer and reflect on the importance of creating sustainable buildings which coalesce with their environment.

In 2014, Godsell was commissioned to create a rectilinear MPavilion with automated walls that fold up to open the interior out to the surrounding gardens.

Last year, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Murcutt created the sixth instalment of the series, a minimal structure topped with a translucent roof that glows at night.

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].