MPavilion has become one of Melbourne’s most important cultural public projects. It brings people together to share ideas, debate and discuss the role design, architecture and culture has in creating a city that is liveable, creative and equitable. MPavilion executive director Sam Redston talks us through the exciting program for 2017.

In fostering discussion and debate about the role design, architecture and culture have in creating a city that is liveable, creative and equitable, how does MPavilion forge greater connections between the community?

As a meeting place that welcomes all visitors, offering a program of talks, music and other events for free over one third of the calendar year we have become a civic space for community engagement and unexpected connections. Sited in a public park and open to all, our program team prioritises the accessibility of our events, ensuring that everyone can join in, and works with our collaborators to ensure that while concepts are often complex there is simplicity in delivery. Events are also deliberately scheduled in a way that creates unusual intersections between audiences and collaborators, often generating new and unexpected conversations and projects.

Why is Melbourne the perfect city for an event such as MPavilion to take place?

Melbournians are curious and go looking for the unexpected. We attend events in challenging weather or in the dead of the night, engaging wholeheartedly with a diverse range of subjects. We like to explore and are prepared to experiment. Since our first opening in October 2014 we have experienced phenomenal support from the public that has grown steadily every season. We are a creative city, and that is shown through the calibre of those who collaborate with us across a broad spectrum of creative practices and communities. MPavilion becomes an intersection for this combination of an alert and inquisitive audience with a tremendous range of designers, artist, performers and thinkers.

How is MPavilion advancing Melbourne as a cultural and hub and capital?

MPavilion is a cultural laboratory like nothing before it and is striving to be ever more inclusive and experimental over the seasons. We work to initiate and support great design, architecture and cultural projects. We take risks and we provide a launching ground for new ideas and a forum for discussion and debate. In this way, we participate in a global conversation about design through the inclusion of international creative practitioners – designers, architects, artists, performers and more – in a space that is quite intimate and provokes direct audience engagement. In these ways I think we contribute to the local design discussion and also project our voice into the global discussion.

Melbourne has become a true international cultural destination. Is it important for MPavilion’s program to be shaped by global ideas in design, architecture and culture, as well as those from Australia? Why?

Yes, it is important and this overlaying of international and local voices and ideas has been present in our program throughout every season of MPavilion. Urban design contributes to the liveability of the city and we believe that through good urban design we can create a creative and equitable city. We strive to bring international ideas to the Melbourne creative community and showcase local designers, performers and creative practitioners, bringing international context to local ideas and innovations.

After a highly successful start to MPavilion 2017 in October, what are some of the forthcoming highlights that visitors can look forward to for this year’s program?

Alongside a sensational program of talks, music and art interventions, there are some exciting highlights still to come. We will be hosting the ongoing Bakehouse Sessions Secret Rehearsals program, where rehearsing bands touring Australia deconstruct their processes of composition and performance to expose the mechanics of their work, offering a unique insight in their creative process. We are also welcoming the founders of ICAN, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organisation that started right here in Melbourne, for a discussion about the ICAN mission and the current geopolitical climate – it’s sure to be a thought-provoking and incredibly engaging event.

What can we expect to see from MPavilion in the years to come?

Two more extraordinary architectural commissions of global significance that shall be the staging point around 1000 free public events over the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Expect collaborations with even more cultural, creative and civic organisations to generate interdisciplinary events, confronting and robust discussions and extraordinary entertainment – all taking place in a utopian community space that is free for anyone and everyone to attend and to contribute.

For more information about MPavilion 2017, visit www.mpavilion.org