Open House Melbourne precinct highlights and MERGE artists announced

OHM-Australian-Islamic-CentreDiscover parts unknown across our vibrant city and explore four major design precincts virtually with Open House Melbourne.

From Boroondara’s historic built environment, southside hidden gems of Port Phillip Bay, or the best of the west in Maribyrnong and Hobsons Bay – audiences can expect a variety of virtual tours, online events and performances from Thursday 16 July and during the Weekend of live events on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 July 2020 – see highlights below!

In addition to the hive of activity presented by precinct partners, MPavilion, Open House Melbourne and Melbourne Music Week have announced the five successful applicants for MERGE – a collaborative music and design initiative commissioned by MPavilion for Open House Melbourne’s July and MPavilion/Melbourne Music Week’s November 2020 program.

From an overwhelming response to the callout, a combination of solo artists and musical groups have been selected to take part in the unique project. The five soloists/groups commissioned are: The Opals, Mara Schwerdtfeger, Shelly Senbei, Hachiku and IJALE.

Recordings of all five performances will be broadcast online via at 4.00pm on Saturday 25 July. For more information about the MERGE commissions, visit: for details.

Open House Melbourne is an independent organisation that fosters public appreciation for architecture and public engagement in design in the built environment. We exist because we believe a more engaged public will result in better design outcomes for our buildings, our streets and our cities.

For more information on precinct events and tours, visit: for details.

Image: Australian Islamic Centre (supplied)

City of Boroondara
Villa Alba is an 1880s Italianate mansion overlooking the Yarra at Studley Park and housing one of the most important examples of late nineteenth century decoration in Australia. Now a museum, the mansion features rare handpainted, stencilled and gilded decoration by renowned Scottish-trained interior designers, the Paterson Brothers.

As part of MERGE, the Kew mansion will be the backdrop for commissioned soloist Mara Schwerdtfeger, who will use multiple microphones to highlight the natural room tones and their autonomous creaks, while responding musically with her viola.

Tay Creggan is another magnificent heritage building along the Yarra that was originally built as a family home by architect Robert Guyon Purchas in 1893 and is known for its picturesque, red brick, Victorian Queen Anne Revival style. Since 1969, the “house on the rocks” has been Strathcona Girls Grammar’s Year 9 campus.

Take a virtual tour complete with 360-degree images of the two-storey relic from Thursday 16 July and learn about what makes the building tick, as told by students from Strathcona Girls Grammar. An impressive Minecraft tour of Tay Creggan that has been designed by two Year 9 students is also available to explore or download – view the trailer here!

Going live on Saturday 25 July, kids at home can also take a mini class on how to cook risotto, play the ukulele, do a science experiment, or explore the world of performance.

City of Hobsons Bay
For this year’s program, Open House has commissioned a virtual tour of the Australian Islamic Centre – a comprehensive complex with worship, educational and recreational facilities and the first truly contemporary Australian mosque. In designing this building, Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Glenn Murcutt has drawn on modernist principles while responding to the project’s community and traditional contexts.

Titled Modscape Manufacturing Hub, tune in for a livestreamed Q&A at 11.00am on Saturday 25 July with Jan Gyrn, Modscape founder and founding member of PrefabAUS. Jan is one of Australia’s leading experts in modular construction and DfMA principles, with a wealth of knowledge sourced from over 25 years of innovating modern construction to increase the speed, efficiency, sustainability, quality and beauty of the built environment.

The Q&A will cover the modular building process in both Australia and the rest of the world, how it is changing the way we build our communities and the methods Modscape has taken on in order to create the most sustainable building practice possible.

City of Maribyrnong
Due to recent developments, the City of Maribyrnong will feature in Open House’s extended campaign featuring extra events and new VR footage realised across July and into August. In July, virtually visit Australia’s largest Taoist temple and hard-to-miss 50-foot statue of Mazu that rises above our highways and train tracks.

The Heavenly Queen Temple is an impressive community-led build and development constructed in a traditional Chinese temple style showcasing a red-brick wall and golden rooftop. More inner west buildings, tours and special events to be announced through the website.

City of Port Phillip
The Australian Tapestry Workshop occupies a National Trust and heritage-listed building in South Melbourne and is the only workshop of its kind operating in Australia. Designed by prominent Melbourne architect T. J Crouch, it is a distinctive example of Victorian Free Gothic architecture style and showcases large spaces dedicated solely to the production of hand-woven tapestries and the support of local artists, architects and designers.

As part of the MERGE collaboration, IJALE will stage a performance that responds to the site’s location on the unceded land of the Yaluk-ut Weelam of the Wurrung Boon people, and the history of colonial co-option of black and indigenous labour and creativity across Australia and the world.

Titled Montague: A Community Lost and Found, explore the distinct social history of the Montague area of the former City of South Melbourne during its most populated period between the two world wars with an online exhibition and virtual guided tour.

Taking place at 3.00pm on Sunday 12 July, join urban historian Janet Bolitho as she explores the past, present and emerging future of the Montague area in a live virtual tour. After years of being home to industry, Montague is undergoing an intense transition to a high-density residential development as part of the renewal of Fisherman’s Bend.