Melbourne’s MPavilion announces 2021 architects

Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel of MAP Studio have been announced by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation to design the 2021 MPavilion in Melbourne, Australia 

Porta Nuova Tower seen across from the water
Porta Nuova Tower
(Image credit: Alessandra ChemolloORCH)

With the pandemic disrupting last year's MPavilion annual plans, more than a year has passed without a new, beloved community-focused architectural structure and cultural laboratory in Melbroune's Queen Victoria Gardens. But fear not; following up on a different, but equally engaging 2020 programme of events, the commissioner, The Naomi Milgrom Foundation, has just announced the next architecture studio to create a pavilion in the park: Venice-based Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel of Italian architecture practice MAP Studio. 

‘We were surprised and pleased when they invited us to come to Australia to discuss the project,' recalls Pelzel, one of the two co-founders of the Venice based practice. ‘They had seen our Asplund pavilion as part of the Vatican's display at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. We went, had several meetings and saw the previous pavilions and the site, and in the end they confirmed to us the commission. The overall mood and passion of the MPavilion's team is very exciting. It is a project that is very important for the community in Melbourne, an urban sign of the consolidated role of civic place of meeting and inspiration that sets it apart.'

Traudy Pelzel And Francesco Magnani of Map Studio in their studio in Venice

Traudy Pelzel and Francesco Magnani of Map Studio in Venice.

(Image credit: Claudia Rossini)

The project has been a while in the making, as the MPavilion design was originally scheduled for construction in 2020. The commission was the culmination of an uplifting couple of years for the young studio (which was founded in 2010); their Vatican Pavilion in Venice indeed received wide critical acclaim and was followed by the prestigious Italian Architect Award in 2018. 

The studio, even though it has built few works outside its home country of Italy, is prolific, focusing on a sensitive approach to historical architecture, restoration and urbanism, while maintaining a sharp, contemporary approach and aesthetic. Its portfolio is varied, including from the refurbishment of 19th century greenhouses in Querini Park, Vincenza, to the outfitting of the National Museum of Musical Instruments in Rome, a new office building in Bologna, and the restoration of Carlo Scarpa’s Balboni House in Venice. 

This sensibility of urban renewal, gentle transformation and sensitive, yet fresh and confident interventions will no doubt bring an exciting twist to the much loved Australian pavilion. Current plans outline that the 2021 MPavilion will open to the public on Thursday 11 November, 2021, while its design will be revealed in advance of that, during July.

ANNEX office building hero exterior shot across blue skies

ANNEX office building.

(Image credit: Claudia Rossini)

Asplund Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, set among the trees on site

Asplund Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. 

(Image credit: Federico Cedrone)

Balboni House

Balboni House

(Image credit: Claudia Rossini)

Greenhouses, Querini Park, Vicenza by Map Studio in Italy on sunny day

Greenhouses, Querini Park, Vicenza. 

(Image credit: Map Studio)

Port Museum Complex interior with machinery

Port Museum Complex. 

(Image credit: Alessandra Chemollo )

Tramway Terminal in Venice at night with striking lights

Tramway Terminal in Venice.

(Image credit: Alessandra Bello)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director 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), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).