Open House Bendigo 2019

OHB19 Beehive BuildingBoasting 27 buildings – plus walking tours, film screenings and a program of talks, the 2019 Open House Bendigo Weekend will for the first time extend beyond central Bendigo to include Eaglehawk and a satellite program in Castlemaine, this weekend: Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October.

The Open House Bendigo Weekend provides a public platform for celebrating quality and purposeful design in the City of Greater Bendigo, shining a light on spaces of architectural excellence, be it significant heritage sites or contemporary design.

The program aims to create a sense of civic pride in the changing urban environment of Greater Bendigo – with access to multiple historic sites and a number of modern buildings – catering for heritage and contemporary design lovers alike.

The program features a diverse range of design led activations, including the Bendigo Hospital Landscape Tour, the Joss House Temple Archaeologist Tour, and the Celebrating Vahland Walking Tour – discussing Bendigo’s greatest architect and his work, from hotels to churches and mansions. Buildings opening this weekend for public access include:

Beehive Building:
Open House visitors will be the first to see the beautifully restored 1872 Beehive Building (artist impression pictured right), which has been returned to its former glory after extensive works by Williams Boag Architects. Similar in style to Melbourne’s Royal Arcade and by the same designer, Charles Webb, the building’s original uses include a hotel, a mining exchange, a restaurant, offices and function space.

The current development uncovers the rich layers of use by removing most of, if not all of the 1920s’ and 1950s’ changes, revealing key features of the original building. Visitors had access to the ground level construction site during the 2018 Open House Bendigo program, and this year visitors will access the newly completed arcade including the second story, revealing the intricate beauty of the glass ceiling not seen for decades.

Bendigo Tramways Depot and Workshop:
The Bendigo Tramways Depot was built in 1901 for the Electric Supply Company of Australia Ltd. At the time of building, the property also included what is today the Bendigo Woollen Mills, which housed the steam engines, generators and boiler until 1972. In addition to the tramway shed, the facility included cooling ponds, a blacksmith’s shop, carpenter’s shed, elevator house, and other support buildings.

The Tramways Depot and Workshop may not have survived until today had it not been for the Bendigo community’s will to keep the trams running in Bendigo once they were shut down as a public transport option. This led to the introduction of the tourist tram service in 1972. The tourist tram service celebrated 46 years of service in 2018, which has resulted in this building now being recognised as the oldest operating tram depot in Australia.

The tram shed has undergone numerous additions in recent times including the addition of the engineering workshop (2003), shed extension and the modification of buildings to make the site more suitable for tourism activities (2011). Bendigo Tramways is known nationally and internationally for its heritage tram restoration capabilities and its rare collection of heritage trams.

Kooroork House II:
With a sustainable focus and a restricted budget, Koorork House II (pictured left) – created by e+ architecture – exemplifies the architect’s desire to create imaginative containers for living. A concept based on ‘making camp’ drove the conceptual design.

The central space where the family comes together around the fire is flanked by four rooms of flexible proportions, allowing for a series of different uses. At only 160 square metres, Kooroork House II highlights how family homes on a budget are possible without compromising on sustainable and design aspirations.

Miners’ Cottage:
One of the main drivers for the architect/owners in developing the site was the view to this being their ‘forever’ house, rather than a stepping stone to something bigger and ‘better’. Stage 1 involved the basic renovation of the interior, ensuring the ‘bones’ were in good health. More recently, Stage 2 has been completed. This involved reconfiguration of internal spaces and a modest extension providing more living space, improved connection to the garden and improved natural light.

Short Street House:
Responding to a brief to increase the living areas of the existing house and rationalise the rear lean-to extension, the new addition does not dominate the streetscape, whilst still being clear that it is contemporary in its design and build. Working within the heritage overlay, Short Streetuses ‘traditional’ materials such as zinc and hardwoods, with crafted elements such as the windows, doors and joinery to ‘tip its hat’ to the past era features, now restored to former condition.

Star Cinema, Former Eaglehawk Town Hall:
The symbolic heart of the Eaglehawk community – a remarkable investment for a borough consisting predominantly of poor mining families. It is now home to the Star Cinema, a not-for-profit community organisation offering a boutique cinema experience, providing current releases as well as weekly classics for the local community

Ulumbarra Theatre:
The Sandhurst Gaol – now the site of the Ulumbarra Theatre – originally opened in 1863 and was decommissioned in 2006. The original design, with passages radiating from a central hub, was based upon the much publicised Pentonville concept, which enabled the surveillance of multiple wings from a central point whilst allowing a reasonable amount of air to circulate the cellblocks. Former inmates housed at the gaol included Chopper Read and Ronald Ryan.

The renovation by Melbourne/Bendigo architects Y2 and international theatre design specialists Schuler Shook, merges contemporary design with the heritage elements of the old penitentiary architecture. With an auditorium capacity of 951, expansive foyers, studios and meeting rooms, Ulumbarra Theatre’s architects have cleverly adapted this historic gaol to create an extraordinary arts and community facility.

The 2019 Open House Bendigo Weekend takes place on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 October. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Beehive Building (supplied)