Written for Broadsheet Melbourne

70 new buildings, plus a host of new residential additions join tours, talks, exhibitions and film screenings for one of the city’s biggest celebrations of architecture.

Old brick mansions. Vaults in St Kilda. An ornate dining hall for 1000 people dating to 1933. These spectacular spaces are just three of 220 you can visit as part of Open House Melbourne’s sprawling 2018 line-up.

Ever wondered what qualities warrant a building’s Five Green Star rating? The Stokehouse Precinct is swinging open its doors to the architecturally inclined and curious, giving you the chance to explore the design and construction features that make this building the first of its kind in Australia.

It’s one of 70 new buildings on this year’s program, which has also added 24 residential properties.

The residential program has expanded since last year, with a mix of modern, contemporary architecture – such as Northcote’s Doll’s House – and unique, heritage properties.

The Doll’s House is split across two levels, with no internal doors or walls – furniture and joinery is used to divide bedrooms from living spaces. It centres on the idea of adapting to the changing needs of a family over a lifespan. Owners Tai Snaith (artist) and Simon Knott (architect) will both present a talk as part of the tour.

“It’s not a surprise that [sustainability] becomes a feature of our programs –especially with new builds – because everybody is quite consciously working towards better building and more sustainable construction,” Victoria Bennett, business and program manager of Open House Melbourne tells Broadsheet.

The RACV Tiny Home, designed by architect Peter Maddison, is “set up as an example of cutting edge technology within building, sustainability and small footprint living,” she says.

Bennett says one building she is particularly “excited” about is the Australia 108. “[It’s] brand new – not even brand new – it’s still under construction,” she explains. “It will be the tallest skyscraper in the Southern Hemisphere when its completed … you’ll actually be able to get up and see that while it’s still being constructed.”

There’s also a chance to check out the yet-to-be-fitted-out shell of Eureka Tower’s level 85. The entire floor features floor-to-ceiling windows with uninterrupted 360-degree views.

“We’re really excited to be working quite closely with Monash University this year and they’re actually opening 37 sites across all four campuses,” Bennett adds.

While there are 81 buildings to tour in the city centre, the program spans much further than the CBD. Buildings will be opening in Beaumaris, Narre Warren, Essendon, La Trobe, Ringwood and Frankston, as well as five buildings in the City of Greater Dandenong.

More than 50 events also feature as part of Open House’s month-long celebration of architecture, including The Australian Ugliness exhibition by artist Eugenia Lim. Comedian Tim Ross will give the annual heritage address lecture – focusing on modernism – at Federation Square on Tuesday July 17.

“We have a big program of exhibitions, talks, film screenings [and] ACMI is screening a number of architecture-related films,” Bennett says.

The majority of the program remains free, but some tours do require bookings to secure your spot. Pre-booked tours will be available on Friday July 13 at 8.30am. A second release will become available on Friday July 20 at 8.30am. Events can also be booked online.

Open House Melbourne Weekend 2018 will take place on July 28 and 29 in a variety of locations throughout inner and outer Melbourne. A complementary program of Open House events will run throughout the month of July. Full program and details here.

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