St Thomas Aquinas Chapel shines as part of Open House Ballarat | Gallery

An award-winning chapel with vibrant stained glass windows and an arching roof will be on display during Open House Ballarat on 28-29 October.

The St Thomas Aquinas Chapel at Australian Catholic University was refurbished by chapel architect Jesse Mowbray in April 2017.

It was awarded the New Work/Development within a Heritage Area (non-domestic) category at the 2017 Heritage Awards. 

ACU Ballarat dean of campus Bridget Aitchison said the building was different to the other Open House buildings due to its construction and blend of old and new. 

“We’re really proud that Open House has chosen to feature the chapel on their list, we think it’s a beautiful space and we would love to share it with the wider community,” she said. 

Open House Melbourne special programs producer said the chapel was a “quiet moment for contemplation”. 

“During a busy Open House day, if you need some time out, this will be the one to sit down in and just consume the space,” she said. 

“We like to empower people with information about their city, so they feel like they can make a valuable contribution to it, and we’ve found the people that live here are so enthusiastic and passionate.”

For the inaugural Open House Ballarat, Visit Ballarat is expecting more than 5,000 people through the doors of 22 residential and heritage buildings in the region. 

Visit Ballarat CEO Noel Dempsey said Open House was a natural fit for a city comprised of heritage and quality new architecture. 

“It’s a smorgasbord of visual delight for those design nuts,” he said. 

“We’re all stickybeaks at heart, wondering what it looks like behind the scenes.”

“The Ballarat Mechanics Institute, for example, is a building with such rich pedigree and history across three or four levels.

“The whole idea of being able to explore the subterranean world in Ballarat during Open House is a really unique opportunity.

It’s like fairytale stuff, because everyone knows about a tunnel somewhere,” Mr Dempsey said. 

All pre-booked tours have sold out, with more than 70 per cent of tour patrons from Melbourne. There are 18 buildings on show which don’t require booking. 

Ballarat City mayor Samantha Mclntosh said adding vibrancy to Ballarat’s streetscape was a priority for the council and Visit Ballarat. 

“We have amazing built heritage, and we really want to showcase what we can do with contemporary new builds as a city,” she said. 

“The opportunity to explore buildings and private houses brings real excitement this weekend.”

For the full program, visit