Canberra’s concrete column cluster pavilion by Molonglo and Pezo von Ellrichshausen

Developer Molonglo and architects Pezo von Ellrichshausen are behind the Less pavilion at Dairy Road, Canberra

Pezo von Ellrichshausen Complete Molonglo's 'LESS' pavilion in Australia
(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

An imposing cluster of slim concrete columns rises amid the ever-evolving landscape of Canberra's Dairy Road neighbourhood. The area is a formerly industrial part of the Australian capital city, now slowly transforming into a diverse, modern, mixed-use district. One of its latest additions is Less, an architectural pavilion created by developer Molonglo and designed by Chilean architecture studio Pezo von Ellrichshausen. 

The celebrated and multi-award-winning architecture studio, headed by partners Sofia von Ellrichshausen and Mauricio Pezo, is known for its dramatic, sculptural works – often in its home country of Chile, and in textured concrete – which cut imposing, mesmerising contemporary figures in both urban and natural landscapes. With the new Less pavilion, the architects followed their signature approach, carving a collection of 36 vertical concrete elements and a circular ramp, which leads visitors up to a viewing platform. 

Children paddle beside Less pavilion concrete columns by Molonglo and Pezo von Ellrichshausen

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

A stream runs below the structure, slow, shallow but continuous, adding dynamism through its perpetual movement and freshness through the water's cooling presence. Around it, 6,000 individual plants of more than 50 different species have been placed to grow and age alongside the structure, many of which are local, and help tie the piece to its surroundings.

Conceived as an experiential piece of public art, a city landmark and a community gathering spot, Less is there to be seen and visited by all. ‘Avoiding a deterministic or transactional approach to use and presence, Less invites the evolving community to interact with and occupy its varied spaces as they see fit,' the architects explain. ‘[It's] Less than a structure, an infrastructure. It is an idiosyncratic place that refuses to be called in a single manner, with a single word.' 

The simple geometries, structures and repetitive format of the pavilion feel steady and reassuring – yet its existence belies a sense of boldness, balancing movement and stillness, the architects argue: 'In its monotonous gesture, in its tedious regularity as much as in its lack of direction, bold columns and slender pillars erode any other function than that of framing every other function. Many events are allowed in unlabelled places.'

The slim tall concrete columns of Pezo von Ellrichshausen Molonglo's 'LESS' pavilion

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

Detail of australian pavilion composed of tall slim concrete columns

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

A cluster of tall slim concrete columns

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

Detail of concrete pavilion in australia

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

External view of concrete pavilion and a bridge to reach it

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

Water underneath concrete pavilion in australia

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

Concrete column details and close up shot

(Image credit: Rory Gardiner)

INFORMATION

pezo.cl (opens in new tab)

molonglo.com (opens in new tab)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).

With contributions from