Melbourne Open House is an annual event, held at the end of July each year. Its goal is “connecting people with good design and architecture in the city”.
During the two days it runs, over 100 buildings of significance, that are normally closed to the general public, are open, either through tours or self guided.
Its always massively popular with tickets for some locations (all of it is free) going within minutes of bookings opening. I missed out on the tours with ticketed entry, but took part in the ones where you joined a long , snaking queue or took a self guided tour.
Victoria Police Mounted Branch
Built in 1912, and one of the largest stables constructed and remaining in Melbourne, it currently houses 17 horses. In the next few months they will be moving to new, purpose-built, modern stables at Attwood as the building has recently been sold to the Victorian College of The Arts.
After a refurbish that will be keeping the heritage aspect intact it will open as artist gallery space. The queue here took an hour to get to the door and we were in and out in about 20 mins. The horses are used in crowd control as well as search and rescue. The horse in the nudging the ball (its how they teach them to push people back) is massive.. he’s the tallest one they have and stands at 17 hands high.
State Library of Victoria
Opening in 1856, with the famous dome completed in 1913, the State Library takes up an entire city block, is Australia’s oldest public library, and one of the first free libraries in the world. They claim to be Australia’s most patronised library with 1.7 million visitors through the doors each year and another 3 million online. The library is about to undergo an $83 million renovation with $53 million being spent on Queens Hall alone. The renovation of Queens Hall will restore it to a reading room, reopen the skylights, and feature a new rooftop garden terrace.
It’s a truly magnificent building, with the Latrobe Reading Room at its heart under the great dome. Within its massive rooms and high vaulted ceilings are exhibitions of paintings and sculptures as well as its books. The forecourt features statues as well as gentle sloping lawns and two large chess boards. While the library is open all year round to the public, Queens Hall, located in the oldest part of the building and, except or special events, has been closed since 2003. Its a vast hall 145 feet long, and was the original reading room until the domed hall opened in 1913.
We arrived at the substation not long after it opened on the Sunday and the queue was pretty small. As it’s an operating substation, with live electrical equipment, we had to gown up with hair nets, lab coats and hard hats. (not that I understand how a lab coat would save me from electrocution). Considered ‘state-of-the-art’ when it opened in 1953, Substation J has been a hidden time capsule since it closed in the 1980’s. It remains a functioning power station – but is now fully automated and the old control room closed off and off-limits to all except a few. We were encouraged to play with the buttons and handles while there, as the old control room is offline, and there was no danger of us plunging the city into darkness 😉
Considered one of the finest examples of a 19th century, three-story terrace house, Tasma Terrace began life as a guest house in 1879. In the 1970’s there were plans to demolish the building and build high-rise towers, but after a successful public campaign it was purchased by the National Trust of Victoria. Tasma Terrace is also known as the scene of a tragedy in 1890