With its tenth anniversary only one year off, there’s no shortage of queuing nosy parkers itching to stick their beaks behind Open House Melbourne’s many promising doors despite the weekend celebration of city’s most special places expanding its footprint annually.
Up from just over 100 properties in 2015, this year’s crop stands at just over 140, with plans to hit the big 200 for the landmark decade next year, according to Open House Melbourne CEO Paul Gurney.
“Melburnians are very passionate about their city and there’s a lot of romance and mystery behind those doors and this weekend is the opportunity to come out and experience their city in a whole new way,” he says. “Plus the majority of our program is completely free, that helps.”
Plucky explorers can gaze out from the projection room of Yarraville’s palatial Art Deco picture house the Sun Theatre or peruse the MIT-resurrected former home of the city’s long-gone newspaper The Argus. Fashion lovers with a flare for the fabulous can gaze longingly at the gorgeous walls of the Myer Mural Hall or those with big plans can set out their political agenda in Parliament House.
“We’ve got buildings that have been in the program every year since we started and they are passionate to welcome those audiences back to their doors,” Gurney says, adding that’s there are plenty of new spots to explore this year too, challenging participants to try out the houses less well travelled. “The City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection is an externally unassuming building in the city but the treasures that it holds within are bountiful.”
While Gurney says he couldn’t possibly pick favourites, we’ve scoured the Open House Melbourne program for you and chosen our top tips but while you’re on the hunt, fuel yourself with coffee and snackage from various Young Guns of Melbourne pit stops designed by emerging architects, including Carlton cafe Heart Attack and Vine, Punch Lane’s Rosa’s Kitchen, Fitzroy’s Industry Beans and East Melbourne’s Square & Compass
Port of Melbourne Boat Tours | Port Melbourne
If, like most Melburnians, you’re mad for your coffee chances are the beans behind the brew your sipping on cruised into town via this industrial behemoth with its towering shipping containers. Jump on an hourly boat cruise to take a closer look at this gargantuan gateway.
The Hellenic Museum | CBD
Formerly the Royal Mint, go for gold at the Hellenic Museum on the corner of William and La Trobe Streets. A rare example of Renaissance revival, it’s currently showcasing Athens’ Benaki Museum Gods, Myths and Mortals exhibition.
Triple R | Brunswick
Forty years young, Melbourne’s much-loved community radio station moved in to this former lingerie factory with the help of a Six Degrees Architects makeover in 2005. If you tune in regularly, why not check out where the valiant volunteers do their thing?
The Substation | Newport
A towering cathedral to electrical power straddling the rail lines at Newport, the Substation is one of Melbourne’s newest multi-disciplinary arts spaces one of the most beautiful. Take a trip down memory lane with Tamara Saulwick’s 'Newport Archives' audio walk.
The Victorian Artists’ Society | CBD
Dame Nellie Melba's Conservatorium was a tenant of the Victorian Artists’ Society from 1898 to 1952. With the interior of this American Romanesque edifice all but intact, perambulate around the galleries and spy on life classes (sadly clothed) in the studio.
The Abbotsford Convent | Abottsford
A not-for-profit arts space housing studios, galleries, cafes and even a radio station, the former convent welcomes around 1 million guests annually. Explore its long and complicated history as CEO Maggie Maguire and Kerstin Thompson Architects offer their insights with our without divine intervention.
Argus Building | CBD
Though much of the interior of this once proud paper had fallen away, the advertising hall has ben restored to its former glory in MIT’s fancy new city digs. DesignInc architects blend the contemporary with fragments of the original steel and sandstone, and the rooftop garden is a must-see.
Russell Place Substation | CBD
Go grease lightning! One of the oldest substations in the city, infrastructure nerds will marvel at the trio of oil-cooled transformers in this electrical hot spot dating back to 1882.
Image credit: Open House