Monday, July 28, 2014

Aspects Of Open House Melbourne

Open House Melbourne was on this weekend - the chance to wander around the city peeking into buildings you have always wondered "what's in there?" 111 buildings were open this year across the weekend, and I managed to get in for a look at eight.

I popped into the RMIT Design Hub first, after wanting to see this last year. Being first up, not much was open nor directed, but I got to look out to the city through the unique discs. I took this shot, maybe my photo of the weekend, from the cafe on the side of the building.

Next up I popped into the State Library to have a look at the Queen's Hall. This grand hall has been closed off to the public since 2003. It's columns and impressive light fixtures were enhanced with the lighting of the room, really showing it off.

While I was here, it was hard to resist sitting in the gorgeous La Trobe Reading Room to take in the dome and the stunning desks and surrounding library walls.

My next stop was another building I had wanted to see last year - the Urban Workshop. The foyer of this modern highrise pays tribute to the large block of land's past - a community from the beginning of the settlement of Melbourne. Artifacts from the archaeological dig are on show in glass cabinets, like this teacup. The tour gave insights into the history of the area, before being taken up to the 33rd floor for incredible views of the city, north and south.

Council House 2 was next on my list, which is an impressive office building with self-sufficient energy features, effectively paying for itself since it opened as a building for the City Of Melbourne. Another building with amazing city views from the rooftop.

Around the corner from here was the Russell Place Substation, which always gets such rave reviews for OHM. The line was no too crazy so I joined it, for a look into a live, active power station.

Loads of technical electrical lingo, the PowerCorp guides were enthusiastic in showing off their little plant - particularly the mercury arc rectifiers, eerie blue light globes as ghosts of the DC power supply past to the city.

On Sunday I met up with my sister and we joined the line to see inside the Argus Building, on the corner of Elizabeth and LaTrobe Street. This is a building that has been boarded up and covered in graffiti, in a total state of derelict for years and years - and this year the restoration will be completed. It took a couple of hours for our turn, but the tour with the Project Manager was totally worth it.

Entering the stunning white, high-ceiling-ed Advertising Hall had picture boards showing the history of this once grand Melbourne building - the home of the Argus newspaper. This was the first newspaper to feature colour around the world, and was printed right here.

Our tour then took us up to the second and third floors, with insights into the preservation of the facade and the columns, and also the original beams that will stay in the new life of this building. There were little whispers of the graffiti that has coated this gutted building for it's forgotten years, and an explanation of the uses of the newly created spaces. An impressive Melbourne icon, reborn!

After then popping into Space & Co, I got down to tour the new NAB building next to Etihad Stadium. Another office building, of which I have actually been into for work purposes late last year, seeing the open plan spaces and triangle features right through it. Hearing of the energy and space efficiencies, and the change in the way the NAB has setting up work for it's staff, was really impressive.

My Open House Melbourne weekend finished off with another amazing view of the city from the rooftop here.


  1. Wow! Very interesting architecture.I like the idea of buildings having a self-sufficient energy feature, there should be more of them.

    1. Both the Council House 2 and the NAB building are rated as six star Green Star ratings - so impressive. The feature details are pretty mind-blowing. The way office buildings need to go.


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