Ever been baffled by the sight of long queues of excited people waiting to be let into a CBD office building on a wintery weekend morning? Then chances are you’ve stumbled across Open House Melbourne.
Now in its fifth year, the annual event invites Melburnians to be a tourist in their own town. Each year dozens of buildings that are usually off-limits to the public throw open their doors (and hatches, and curtains and elevators). This year there are 100 buildings taking part in the Open House weekend, 40 of them for the first time.
Run by a team of architecture and design loving volunteers, Open House has become a huge success, with tens of thousands of visitors turning out to get a look at the city’s buildings in a new light. As Open House’s spokesperson Robert Larocca says, the aim of the event is to “encourage Melburnians to look at buildings and spaces from a design and engineering perspective; to discover special details that are often overlooked.”
Buildings involved in the Open House weekend include majestic old theatres, glorious art deco office buildings, major cultural institutions, stately government buildings, and some of the city’s most well-known churches and sporting venues. New additions this year include a great range of residential buildings and access to the “towers” at Royal Melbourne Hospital, with their stellar views of the city skyline.
Open House is not just about showing off Melbourne’s architectural and design gems, it’s also about unlocking unusual and interesting spaces that we might walk past, above, or below on a weekly basis: ballrooms, basements, sky-high gardens, cavernous subterranean spaces, hidden corridors, ingenious security devices and cutting edge sustainable design. It invites visitors to discover more about the city, its buildings, and what’s going on behind the facade.
Open House also has guided tours, public talks and a children’s program. Some of the buildings require booking ahead of time. For more detailed information about the buildings, bookings, tours and talks, visit www.openhousemelbourne.org.