Centre for Architecture | Open House Melbourne launches over 100 buildings, exhibitions and events

The-Capitol-RMIT-photo-by-John-GollingsMelbourne’s vibrant built environment will come alive again for the 14th annual Open House Melbourne 2021 Weekend on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July. Comprising over 100 buildings, exhibitions, events, and more, the full program is now available to explore online via the Open House Melbourne website.

The program was launched earlier this week at the newly built Melbourne Connect innovation precinct at the University of Melbourne, a highlight in this year’s program. Designed by acclaimed architectural firms Woods Bagot and Hayball, the 75,800sqm precinct boasts smart, innovative, and sustainable design and presents itself as a new purpose-built innovation precinct that is a digital and data powerhouse built on the former site of the Royal Women’s Hospital.

Melbourne Connect brings together world-class researchers, industry, start-ups, higher-degree students, artists and Science Gallery Melbourne, connecting brilliant minds to tackle the most pressing problems facing society.

This year’s program is centred on the theme Reconnect, and delves deep into topics of adaptability and the liveability of our future cities, buildings and infrastructure. There are 47 new sites to explore and returning favourites to the OHM program, including Orica House, Waller House, Villa Alba Museum, Collins Arch, Melbourne Quarter Sky Park, Koorie Heritage Trust, Collingwood Yards, Lyon Housemuseum, and many more. Select program highlights include:

National Institute of Circus Arts Australia (NICA)
NICA comprises two award winning facilities on the Prahran campus of Swinburne University of Technology. The first is the Sidney Myer Circus Studio designed by Bates Smart Architecture and the second is the NICA National Circus Centre (NCC) designed by Cox Architects & Planners. Flexible and efficient structural design supports numerous rigging configurations and catwalk systems to enable the facility to attract and conduct a myriad of events. Over the weekend, NICA’s trainers will guide tours through the main training facilities showcasing the building’s rich history, followed by the option of a juggling workshop post-tour.

Carrum Station
Carrum Station’s design extends a coastal expression from the beachfront, into the heart of Carrum and provides a marker for the precinct. Designed by Cox Architecture, the building forms draw upon the eroded coastal character of the beach, evoking the effects of wind and water on the landscape of the sand dunes. The Frankston railway line traces ancient indigenous movement paths and there are a number of cultural sites located within the precinct. The design response set out to recognise and embed these cultural and community connections by incorporating designs by traditional owners.

Designing on Country
ABC’s Jonathan Green will host a conversation with Boon Wurrong elder N’Arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM and emerging Gamilaraay architect Beau de Belle and non-Indigenous design academics, Christine Phillips and Jock Gilbert in considering the question, what will Melbourne look like in the future when we embrace design as an act of reconciliation? Not to be missed, the event will take place at The Capitol on Saturday 24 July. Designing on Country is presented by the Ngulu team at RMIT Architecture and Urban Design, RMIT University.

Hidden Beneath
Beneath the streets of St Kilda and largely unseen by the public, the St Kilda Foreshore Vaults designed by W.B. Downe (1891) and Town Hall Caretakers Cottage designed by William Pitt (1888) were once a hub of beach going life. Hidden Beneath – An Immersive Exploration is a virtual reality experience curated by Ignition Immersive, set to guide guests through the two sites from the comfort of another modernised historical site – 234 Banks Street, South Melbourne. The narrated exploration, allows guests walk freely through the spaces and reconnect with the hidden past of St Kilda through a VR headset.

Walk YourGround
The ability to move freely in and around the places you live, work and play, and to feel you belong in your space and place is an essential human right. Yet, often this is denied to many on the basis of gender. Walk YourGround is a series of walking tours taking place in seven local Melbourne precincts over the Weekend that will be led by members of Monash University’s gender, design and space specialists, XYX Lab. All members of the community are invited to join in a discussion of the special typologies where movement and access are restricted for women and gender-diverse people and consider how we can design more equitable communities.

Assemble 393 Macaulay Road
Assemble’s first project to be delivered under the innovative Housing Futures housing model, allows residents to rent their home for five years whilst saving to buy it, intended to cultivate community and connection while enhancing health and wellbeing. The innovative building at 393 Macaulay Road Kensington retains and restores the façade of the original heritage building, designed by Art Deco architect Harry A. Norris (also of Curtain House, Mitchell House and the Nicholas Building) and reimagined by Fieldwork Architects. Architect-led construction tours will reveal thoughts behind the Fieldwork design, and inspire discussion about the future of community living.

Burwood Brickworks
Burwood Brickworks – designed by NH Architecture generates its own energy, cleans its own water, is free from toxic construction and even produces food on the roof. A guided tour of the shopping precinct, led by members of the centre management will offer opportunities for guests to ask questions and learn about the behind-the-scenes aspects of the world’s first Living Building Challenge retail centre.

Russian House
Built in 1870–1890, the Russian House is a superb Victorian era building, designed in the styles of classicism with some elements of the renaissance architecture. Located on a fine corner streetscape in the heart of Fitzroy, this historical building was originally established for the Collingwood & Fitzroy United Friendly Societies Dispensary for the supply of medicines, bandages, etc. The dispensary was there until 1968; since then, it’s become home to Melbourne’s Russian-speaking community. Guided tours will tell you the story of the house itself and introduce you to everyday culture and history of the diverse Russian community. You will also be able to buy delicious Russian snacks, cakes, and tea.

This is Public
Taking place on Friday 23 July, This is Public is an opening celebration, public conversation and podcast series that will launch the OHM Weekend and is co-presented with The Capitol RMIT on Swanston Street. Featuring six short presentations by leading architects, designers and creative practitioners on the theme of ‘Reconnect’ – This is Public?asks us to reconsider the way we occupy our city and to consider new ways of designing and adapting our buildings, infrastructure and systems towards a better future for our city and our communities. 

The 14th annual Open House Melbourne Weekend on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July 2021. The majority of the program is free – with no bookings necessary. For more information and to view the full program, visit: www.openhousemelbourne.org for details.

Image: The Capitol, RMIT – photo by John Gollings