Open House Melbourne to be staged in Ballarat

Picture: Luka Kauzlaric
Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

The doors of Ballarat’s most interesting buildings will be thrown open to the public as the popular Open House Melbourne festival heads to our city.

It will be the first time Open House has partnered with a major regional centre, allowing Ballarat residents and visitors to get a sneak peek inside buildings and spaces not normally open to residents.

Organisers say the two-day event over October 28-29 will see a series of private houses, architecturally significant commercial and civic buildings and landscapes all open for viewing.

Emma Telfer, who is the executive director of Open House in Melbourne, said Ballarat was chosen not only because of its rich heritage but also due to its contemporary building projects.

“We’d been thinking about doing a regional program, and then Visit Ballarat approached us, so it was the right time and the right place,” she said.

Ms Telfer said she was encouraged by the success of White Night in Ballarat, saying the event had not only been transplanted but also had evolved in a regional setting.

“Another factor was Ballarat’s intense growth in terms of population,” she said. “A big part of what Open House does is prompt discussions around the future of a city.”

The Open House festival, which first kicked off in Melbourne in 2008, allows the public to directly experience how well-designed cities can improve their lives, by opening up examples of architectural excellence to all.

Visit Ballarat chair Sarah Beaumont said she was thrilled Ballarat would be the first regional partner of the Open House program.

“It’s held in extremely high regard across the architecture and design industries, drawing a loyal following from experts to enthusiasts,” she said.

“Ballarat’s alignment with this event will showcase our heritage and architecture in a new, contemporary light.”

But organisers remained tight-lipped about what buildings in Ballarat would be open, with Ms Telfer saying a full program would be revealed in late September.

She said there would also be a public talk and a screening of a documentary called Citizen Jane: Battle for the City.

More than 200 sites were opened to the public in Melbourne this year, with many of them normally hidden from the public’s view, including Government House near the Botanical Gardens and the Port of Melbourne.