“Melbourne’s architecture has enormous character. You can read a city’s history by its built form, and I think that free spirit is what makes us one of the design capitals of the world.”
So says Peter Maddison, architect and ambassador for Open House Melbourne, that wonderful winter weekend which for seven years has let us inside parts of our city that for the other 363 days of the year, we never have access to. Open House Melbourne (OHM) continues to provide an opportunity for us to explore unknown environments, innovative designs and the character Maddison describes. Inspired by the original Open House, which began in 1992 in London, our fascination and enthusiasm over the years suggests we’ve openly embraced the concept here.
As Tim Leslie, architect and OHM president, says, “On a single weekend each year we aim to showcase the diversity of significant buildings and spaces that contribute to creating our city … as a wonderful, living museum to be engaged with, enjoyed and questioned.”
There are more than 100 buildings on the program this year, including 36 added for 2014. New to this year’s itinerary is The Library at the Dock, a brand-new, six-star green-star rated facility in the waterfront area. Clare Design and Hayball Architects have created an educational hub that includes a traditional library collection as well as community and performance spaces. This modern building uses recyclable materials such as cross-laminated timber and hardwood.
With sustainable living continuing its rise, The Commons, a residential building in Brunswick, captures the future direction of smart environmental design. By Breathe Architecture, this five-level, self-sufficient development has a no-car-space policy. It is next to a train line so residents use public transport or walk to the CBD. With its rooftop garden and village-style living, it heralds community minded, small-footprint living.
The doors to Queen’s Hall at the State Library of Victoria, once closed to the public, are now wide open. Rarely do we get a chance to experience its majestic columns, ornately decorated ceilings and 19th-century grandeur. Designed by renowned heritage architect Joseph Reed and once the reading room of the library, this historic interior is located near the Library's new Victor Hugo: Les Miserables From Page to Stage exhibition.
Complementing the OHM weekend is the Speaker Series talks on July 16 at Deakin Edge, Federation Square and July 22 at RMIT Capitol Theatre. Unique to this year’s programme is Nite Art, an innovative collaborative venture that will see a range of art installations on view at various locations on July 23. There will also be screenings of The Competition, a documentary featuring world-renown architects and revealing the competitive nature of the industry over time. It is presented by DIS-cour.se in partnership with OHM and the Melbourne School of Design and will screen on July 26 and 27 at ACMI.
The full program can be found at openhousemelbourne.org with updates via Facebook and [Twitter](https://twitter.com/OpenHouseMelb_. For information on the Open House organisation, go to openhouseworldwide.org.
The writer of this article is a volunteer at OHM.