Last month I braved one of the coldest weekends and rode my bike to some of the participating buildings in Open House Melbourne 2014. A walk through of Government House was a nice place to start considering I pass by the ivory tower each day on my ride into work along the Yarra and had never seen inside! Designed by architects William Wardell and JJ Clarke, completed in 1876, it was rumoured to be the largest Government House in the British Empire at the time of construction.
Another quick ride along the Yarra to take in the Mission to Seafarers, completed in 1919 and designed by Walter Butler. This warren of buildings includes the chapel, clubrooms, chaplain’s house, cottage and the Norla dome (originally a gymnasium).
Riding to the docklands to take shelter from the rain showers on the wharf of the New Docklands library and managed to catch the last guided tour of the day with Project Manager from Lend Lease. This is one of the first all timber structural buildings in Melbourne and an exceptional example of this type of prefabricated construction, complete with exposed timber throughout and recycled columns and beams in part of the building.
This library is breaking the traditional mould with exhibition spaces, an auditorium, recording studios and table tennis on the convertible outdoor terrace. The lightweight structure allowed construction directly onto the existing wharf saving time and materials costs.
Day 2 started out with a guided walk through of the Royal Melbourne Hospital tunnels showing the maze of unused pipes, wires, cable trays of building services and the new ordered and tidy tunnels sending services throughout the buildings above and neighbouring sites. The 2 massive generators keeping warm and on standby were just some of the major infrastructure in place for any emergency power.
Next stop was the famous Myer Mural Hall on the top floor of Myers to take in the lavish deco finishing and huge murals depicting influential figures from the arts, opera, literature, fashion and dance. http://muralhall.net.au/
The final stop was the roof garden at 131 Queen Street. Completed in 2010 and designed by Bent Architecture, the garden is now well established and its features include a centralised roof water collection and irrigation system and a micro-weather station to allow collection of green roof performance data for researchers from The University of Melbourne.
Our city has many amazing architectural icons and even though I only got to 6 buildings this year, Melbourne Open House made me even more proud of my city and eager to volunteer for next year’s event.