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Open House Melbourne 2018

Since 2008, Open House Melbourne (OHM) has been facilitating visits to museums, town halls, heritage buildings, apartment towers and many more, during the eponymous weekend.

Every year, more than a hundred buildings are open to the public, including the ones which access is usually restricted. In this category, we can find private houses with unique architectural features, residential apartments, sub-station, museums and other heritage buildings with limited opening times. Most of the events are run in collaboration with relevant Councils, organisations and building owners; and, facilitated with the help of volunteers.

Open House 2018 marks my second time volunteering for the weekend. As an architecture graduate, I confess my motivation is mainly fueled by the habit of observing every nook and cranny of a building. So I thought, why not be a part of it, instead of just being a visitor. So I registered my interest online and started my journey as a volunteer.

I do like being a part of Open House Melbourne. As a volunteer, you get to mingle with other architecture enthusiasts, earn a VIP access (for buildings that require no online registration), you receive an OHM’s tote bag with the latest building program and guide and have the chance to get acquainted with your building’s management/volunteer team.

Pictured: Open House Melbourne 2018’s building program

The work for the OHM weekend starts way before the weekend itself. The volunteers are asked to attend a briefing (optional for volunteers of three years or more) two weeks before the D-day. Topics such as do’s and don’ts, emergency contact, health and safety guidelines are explained, followed by Q&A session. Afterwards, volunteers are left with study time at home, e.g. reading through the volunteer handbook, health and safety handbook and others.

Each person can volunteer for a morning or afternoon shift, on Saturday or Sunday. For the past two years, I’ve always chosen to do Saturday morning shift. Firstly, I was stationed at Bluestone Cottage Museum, a former Pentridge Prison warden’s house now turned into a museum (Coburg, City of Moreland).

Pictured: Bluestone Cottage Museum


Then I was at Melbourne Observatory in the Royal Botanic Gardens. I didn’t even know about those places before OHM. I definitely felt delighted when I discovered that both places are packed full of interesting history and stories.

Pictured: Melbourne Observatory

At busy spots, time and resource management skill do prove to be very crucial. Faced with many expecting visitors and probably long queue, the volunteers (ranging from two to three persons on each building) may have to multi-task registering the visitors, counting the number of visitors, answering queries, managing the queue and more. Hence, solid early preparation is key to having a smooth operation and ensuring all visitors needs and queries are answered.

This year, I also visited Melbourne Observatory, Government House and Council House 2 (CH2). Even though I usually gravitate towards older, more historical buildings, Council House 2 definitely was the highlight of my weekend. Its sustainability features, including a fresh air system and circulation, heat retention building materials and computer-controlled temperature management, really appealed to me. Sick building syndrome is long well-known, and full-time workers tend to spend more in the office than in any other places. Yet, it seems that creations of high-quality office with considerations of health factors are quite limited in the market. CH2 provides a good example in building technology and financial gain from occupying a sustainable office space.

Pictured: Council House 2

While waiting for the next Open House weekend, there are always programs to follow from OHM website. Talks, tours and movies are on the list.

Otherwise, look forward to Open House Bendigo at the end of October.

Written by Amy Ikhayanti 

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