Open House Melbourne announces digital program highlights

OHM-Lyon-Housemuseum-photo-by-Dianna-SnapeThe 13th annual Open House Melbourne will liven up the month of July with a schedule of free design and architecture events launching on Wednesday 1 July. The future of our city will be considered across a range of talks and discussions with a special focus on the environmental impacts of design decisions and architectural responses to creating COVID-safe spaces.

This year’s festival will embrace immersive technologies to capture Melbourne’s iconic buildings through cutting-edge VR as well as live-streamed footage led by some of the city’s renowned architects and designers. For the first time, visitors will be able to skip the queues and not worry about booked out tours to their favourite sites around town.

The full building list and access to virtual tours will launch online Thursday 16 July 2020 and be available until the end of August. Previously accessible during the visiting hours on the Open House Weekend, the program of virtual tours will now allow ample time to explore Australia’s most liveable city from the comfort of home.

To mark the new format, an exclusive public launch will take place with Open House Ambassador and Grand Designs host, Peter Maddison, in conversation with key staff and partners to formally launch the 2020 Open House Melbourne Digital program – live streamed across the website and social media platforms the evening of Thursday 16 July 2020.

In addition to virtual tours, the annual Weekend of live events set for Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 July will host a series of digital experiences including live tours, panels, architect Q&As and performances from the musicians selected to take over five Open House Melbourne sites as part of the MERGE program – all details will be released on Wednesday 1 July 2020.

With over fifty virtual building tours, and engaging digital content from many more significant locations, the 2020 highlights include:

Trades Hall:
Carlton’s historic Trades Hall has been the home of organised labour in Melbourne for over 160 years. The complex is a series of ten buildings built between 1874 and 1963 and is the oldest continuously active union building in the world. Aptly named the “People’s Palace”, Trades Hall is one of the most historic buildings in Melbourne that was built on the back of the struggle for the eight-hour day. Audiences will gain digital access to the Old Council Chambers not yet seen by the public since undergoing conservation works commenced in 2019 to restore its spectacular mid 1880s splendour. Members of the Lovell Chen heritage team will be giving a live Q&A on the restoration story.

Collingwood Yards:
Collingwood Yards is Melbourne’s newest cultural precinct that has dramatically transformed the former Collingwood Technical College into a vibrant, cross-disciplinary creative hub that supports not-for-profit creative organisations and individuals. Across three buildings and 6,500sq metres, the historic site has been reinvented as an affordable, open and connected space tenanted by artists, arts organisations, hospitality and retail. This collaboration with Open House Melbourne is an early opportunity for the public to experience the transformed spaces digitally – walk the hallways, discover the 20th century history of the site through archival footage and documentation, and meet the current tenants who now call Collingwood Yards home. There will also be a sneak peek of the soon-to-open rooftop bar called the “Caretaker’s Residence”, where audiences can hear about the work of conservation and caretaking at the Keith Haring Mural and experience performances, exhibitions and studio tours. Join conversations with principal architect Joachim Holland of Fieldwork and the team that realised the vision behind the collaborative, creative community in the heart of Collingwood.

Parliament House:
Step inside Victoria’s iconic Parliament House and explore one of Australia’s oldest and most architecturally distinguished public buildings. As part of the festival, Facebook live events will encapsulate never before seen experiences of the building including the lowering of the grand chandelier in Queens Hall and access to the roof overlooking Spring St and where Members of Parliament work. Tune into a panel discussion on Thursday 9 July with principal architect Peter Elliott and Peter Lochert of the Department of Parliamentary Services that will be livestreamed from the Annexe and moderated by Interim Executive Director of Open House Melbourne, Alison Cleary.

Citylink Traffic Control Room:
The Citylink Traffic Control Room (TCR) monitors around 45 kilometres of road – stretching from the Monash Freeway, through the Domain and Burnley tunnels, over the Bolte Bridge, along the Tullamarine Freeway and out across the West Gate Bridge, taking in sections of the West Gate Freeway. Since operations began in 1999, the TCR has played a critical role in keeping motorists safe with operators able to monitor the roads 24/7 and dispatch Transurban Incident Response Crews to arrive at an incident in a matter of minutes. For the very first time, the public will be able to peer into one of the city’s busiest traffic control rooms digitally, and navigate the Citylink TCR via 3D mapping and a virtual tour led by Transurban’s Operations Lead, Brad Collis.

Lyon Housemuseum
Blurring the lines between art and architecture, the suburban spectacle that is Lyon Housemuseum in Kew will be a building highlight for many design and contemporary art lovers alike. The unique home property that doubles as a private museum was designed by celebrated architect Corbett Lyon and his wife Yueji Lyon, who was instrumental in establishing the public extension of the Housemuseum gallery that opened in 2019. Open House audiences will receive a digital view inside the home restoration while catching a glimpse of the family’s expansive art collection. Enjoy an Instagram Live virtual tour and Q&A session led by Corbett Lyon, as well as a behind the scenes look of the custom-designed organ that will include a short performance by the architect himself.

Former Salter House
The former Salter House (pictured right) was originally designed by Walter Burley Griffin in 1924 and presents a rare surviving example of one of Australia’s most original and fascinating architects. New to the Open House residential program, the former Salter House is a ‘knitlock’ style cottage due to its unique concrete block materiality and construction system significant to its time. Carefully restored by Jane Cameron Architects and Architect Hewson in 2018, the brief was to update the environmental and sustainable attributes of the original house by considered internal and external interventions. The house sits embedded in an indigenous landscape of soft edges, boulder outcrops, and a natural pond. During the Weekend, online audiences will receive special access to the private residence and enjoy a live tour led by the architects and owners, as they deliver a virtual tour and discussion about the design response and process.

COVID-19: The Impact on Workplace Design
International design practice Hassell will run a free webinar, hosted by principal and design strategy team leader, Evodia Alaterou. This session will reflect on the human side of the current COVID-19 crisis, with a spotlight on how the pandemic impacts professional and personal lives. Find out how design can best support people returning to offices and the workplace design changes required to meet the new normal. Taking place online on Wednesday 22 July 2020 – 5.00pm.

For more information about Open House Melbourne, visit: for details.

Image: Lyon Housemuseum – photo by Dianna Snape