Open House Melbourne or OHM 2013 is an annual event providing the public free access and discovery of some of the most beautiful architectural, engineering and historic buildings in and around the city. There was a total of 111 buildings opened to the public over the weekend. I have only managed to scrap 6 buildings – 3 on Saturday and 3 on Sunday. I am going to have to plan better for next year.
I started on a Saturday late morning, heading into the CBD for my dumpling fit – “Shanghai Street Dumpling” in Little Bourke Street. It is my favourite dumpling place. There is always a queue outside the tiny eatery. But, if you go alone, it usually take less than 5 minutes to get a seat. They will not leave an empty seat, that means sharing the table with others. After filling my stomach with a bowl of homemade pulled noodle, 8 pork dumplings and some greens for only $8.60, I was ready to explore Melbourne open house. I walked towards Swanston Street towards the State Library, which has the Queen’s Hall open for viewing. But, something else happened on my way there.
I have never seen that many police in the street – they were on horses, bicycles, in the cars and standing nearby a large crowd of people with banners and loudspeakers. There was some kind of a street protest about to start. I got closer. Then it became clear. It was a street protest against the government on the boat refugees that has become a major political issue for the coming federal election. It has been politicised by both the government and opposition parties, increasing the risk on the boat refugees. Some of them never made it to shore and drown in the sea. It was good to see such a strong support for the boat refugees.The street protest had caused a short disruption to the tram commuters, which was quite a sight to see the trams piled up.The street protest was far more interesting than my Queen’s Hall viewing visit at The State Library of Victoria. I was hoping that I can view the Dome tour of the Library, but it was only by ballot. The next two buildings I decided to view are within 5 minutes walking distance from my city apartment building. They are a modern, engineering designed building based around a sustainable green environment.
The first building was a low rise steel, timber and glass structure office building called the Lifestyle Working. I walked through the automatic glass sliding door. There is a sense of openness with timber planter boxes, plants and bamboos streaming up towards the bright sky above. There are steel beams, staircases and concrete walls. I was the only person inside. I walked up to the next floor and the next floor. A middle age woman came out from one of the lift. She was, like me, a visitor of the OHM. She was disgusted with the architecture of this building. She told me so. She said it looks like a prison! An Australian prison! I told her that I thought it was nice with all the natural lighting, rich timber and woodwork and the plants and bamboo trees and powered by solar panels on its roof. She then told me that she is an architect. I guess her “expert opinion” counts more than mine. I moved along and had a bit of a quiet laugh on my brief encounter of an unhappy visitor of this Lifestyle working building. But, perhaps she is right. After looking at my photos, it now looks like an engineering “up market” modern prison, going through a metamorphosis turning into an environmental “green house” lifestyle working space after a few years time. The next building is the Aurecon Centre. Aurecon is an engineering company. The building is designed by their own engineers with every part of the building design based on a sustainable working environment – the lighting, the open space on each floor, adjustable airflow in each workstation area, interconnected staircase to each floor, fully wifi on each floor with flexible workstations, open and flexible training rooms flowing to an outdoor barbecue area overlooking an oval park and surrounding buildings. We were taken on a guided tour on each floor by the Aurecon staff. It is a great office building, which makes working in the office a welcoming change. I wish I have a workplace like this.The view from the building overlooks the Yarra River towards south and southwest, and a small oval park and surrounding buildings on the eastern side.