“On this particular project we had a team in Melbourne, close to the client and final build. We also had a team in Mumbai close to the architect and the one-to-one prototyping. That, with the added cultural and economic differences between the two regions, generated a richness to the project.”
Every summer, a temporary gathering place is built among the eucalypts of Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens. MPavilion is an annual commission to showcase innovative architecture. Each year Arup, a construction partner for the event, supports the chosen architect in bringing the space to life.
This year, the commissioning of Indian architect Bijoy Jain meant half of Arup’s team sat next to the client and build in Melbourne while the other half sat next to the architect in Mumbai. Bijoy’s Studio Mumbai is known for its experimental approach to architecture, building a number of full-scale prototypes as a process of validating its designs. This exposed Arup’s engineers to a methodology that would be completely unfeasible in Australia.
These social, economic, and geographical differences injected a unique diversity of perspectives into the project. There were times when an architect might seek to validate something different from a particular prototype than an engineer did. But ultimately these collision were never confrontational. Rather, they challenged members of each team to questions the things they took for granted.
“It’s healthy to be forced to rethink your position,” says John Noel, a senior structural engineers who supported the project from Arup’s Melbourne office. “That can come from structural engineers talking to architects or from having teams located in different region.”