Our top 6 picks for virtual Open House Melbourne 2021

Inside Melbourne's Capitol Theatre: a colourful light display on the ceiling

Louise Baxter

Posted July 22, 2021

For one weekend, the City of Melbourne is having a virtual Open House - and you're invited.

Melbourne’s vibrant architecture world will come alive for the 14th annual Open House Melbourne, with a fully online program packed with more than 100 buildings, exhibitions, and events to explore.

The 2021 digital event, running from 23 to 27 July, is centred around the theme ‘Reconnect’, which dives into topics of adaptability and liveability for the future, including architect-designed buildings and infrastructure for our cities as we continue to navigate the challenges of COVID-19.

"For Victorians, the experience of an extended lockdown has brought into sharp relief the value of our public life and how the places in which we live, work and gather impact deeply on our sense of place and well-being,” said Fleur Watson, Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Centre for Architecture Victoria and Open House Melbourne.

This year, there are 47 new sites returning alongside favourites such as the State Library of Victoria, Collins Arch, Villa Alba Museum, the Koori Heritage Trust and Russian House.

For fans of architecture, design, history, and art, this is a Melbourne event not to be missed. Here are our highlights from this year's program.

Six picks for virtual Open House Melbourne 2021

This is Public – An Opening Celebration

A live online broadcast airing from Melbourne's Capitol Theatre, This Is Publicis the opening night event to kick off the program. It will host speakers with different backgrounds and perspectives, seeking to answer big questions about the role of policy, climate change and architecture in the future of cities, among other topics.

St Kilda Foreshore Vaults: Hidden Beneath – An Immersive Exploration

Underneath St Kilda streets, there’s two sites largely unseen by the public – the St Kilda Foreshore Vaults, designed in 1891, and the Town Hall Caretakers Cottage (1888). You'll be guided through a narrated exploration to see these former hubs of beach life.

Melbourne Connect, University of Melbourne

This new purpose-built innovation precinct – powered by the University of Melbourne and partners – is a digital and data powerhouse built on the former site of the Royal Women’s Hospital.

Melbourne Connect brings together world-class researchers, industry, start-ups, higher-degree students, artists and Science Gallery Melbourne, connecting brilliant minds to tackle the most pressing problems facing society. The 75,800sqm precinct features smart and sustainable design, including onsite rainwater harvesting as well as solar and geothermal energy.

Melbourne Connect at The University of Melbourne. Photo: Social Active Hub
The West Gate Tunnel. Photo: Misheye

The Victorian Pride Centre

Virtually tour Australia's first LGBTIQ+ purpose-built centre, designed to bring the community together as a cultural, social and services hub. Designed by Brearley Architects & Urbanists and Grant Amon Architects, the Pride Centre offers an open-door to the whole community who share their values of equality, diversity and inclusivity.

Arts Centre Melbourne

Explore the Australian Performing Arts Collection of more than 780,000 items, including costumes, designs, photos, puppets, props, posters and archives. Established in 1975, the State collection conveys the history of circus, dance, music, opera and theatre inside the Victorian landmark.

West Gate Tunnel: Behind the Scenes

If you're wondering what's happening behind the roadworks and screens, this tour of the West Gate Tunnel Project’s exit portal near Brooklyn and the Newport rail line might just sate your curiosity. Crews have dug a massive hole 30m deep, right near where 200,000 or more cars pass each day on the freeway.