Carme Pinós to design the MPavilion 2018

Carme Pinós to design the MPavilion 2018

Just a day after Rem Koolhaas and David Gianotten’s lauded Melbourne MPavilion for 2017 shutters, the Naomi Milgrom Foundation has announced the winner of 2018’s commission. The appointment of Carme Pinós – architect, educator and principle at Estudio Carme Pinós – will make this year’s pavilion the first public commission by a female architect in Australia.

It’s an auspicious move for both Pinós and MPavilion, the country’s foremost architecture and design event (one facilitated each year by Milgrom, an Australian philanthropist). Now in its fifth year, the event bills itself as ‘cultural laboratory and utopian space’ – a notion manifested in talks, workshops, performances and this temporary pavilion.

Portrait of Carme Pinós. Photography: Slivio Matticchio

Pinós’ approach to architecture is overwhelmingly humanist. She founded her eponymous studio in 1991 after building an international reputation for her work with fellow Barcelonan Enric Miralles. Her practice since has been multifaceted, and she has applied herself to projects exploring everything from municipal intervention, social housing and urban regeneration to designing furniture, and always with a focus on research and experimentation.

Her portfolio is global: recently completed projects include the idiosyncratic Cube 2 office towers in Guadalajara, Mexico (2014, with two similar-height buildings inclined toward the street and façades lying non-parallel with the ground below); the Caixaforum Cultural Exhibition Centre in Zaragoza, Spain (2008–2014, with dual exhibition halls suspended at different levels, models of which were acquired by the Pompidou Centre); and a crematorium for the Igualada Cemetery, Spain (2014–16, and an austere, sculptural build that fulfils its specific technical remit while retaining a respectful poeticism and minimalist beauty).

Interior detail of the Cube1 in Mexico deisgned by Estudio Carme Pinós. Photography: Jordi Bernadó

Her current projects include the masterplan for the historic centre of the French town of Saint-Dizier, and the Massana School of Arts in Barcelona – an ambitious 11,000 sq m project replete with a striking terracotta-coloured ceramic geometric façade that remains aesthetically sympathetic to its urban surround on one half, a subtler exterior tucked over the building’s entrance on the other and a luminous, expansive interior space – among others.

Recognised for her work advancing gender quality in architecture, Pinós was awarded the Richard J Neutra Medal for Professional Excellent by the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona in 2016. She was the recipient of one of the Catalan government’s highest civil/cultural distinctions – the Creu de Sant Jordi Medal – a year previously, and was made a RIBA International Fellow and an Honoury Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 2013 and 2011, respectively.

The Pabellón Río Blanco Mexico designed by Estudio Carme Pinós. Photography: Jordi Bernadó

It’s an impressive CV, more than justifying the Melbourne commission. Says Milgrom: ‘Carme’s remarkable work honours the responsibility of architecture to serve a community, by creating spaces that place human experience and environment at the centre of her designs. Her approach to architecture, social housing and community reflects MPavilion’s ongoing desire to stimulate debate about the role of design and architecture in building creative and equitable cities and communities.’

Pinós’ take is equally effusive. ‘It is a great responsibility to create a unique place in this special park with views over Melbourne, a city to which I have deep attachments,’ she says. ‘I am inspired by the fact that this new project will become a cultural destination for the city.’ Following Koolhaas and Gianotten’s ludicrously popular modernist amphitheatre, expectation weighs heavy – but there’s every reason to think Pinós’ project will be more intriguing still.