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    Editor’s picks: highlights of Ballarat’s inaugural Open House

    Nicholas Rider

    Twenty of Ballarat’s most architecturally significant buildings will open their doors to the public this month, as Open House Melbourne extends its program to the regional city for the first time ever.

    The inaugural Open House Ballarat program will run between 28 and 29 October, and will be structured much like the well-established Melbourne program.

    Over the course of the weekend, visitors will have the chance to see private houses, commercial buildings and landscapes throughout Ballarat that they wouldn’t usually have the chance to see, and some of which have never been open to the public. In addition to the open buildings will be a screening of Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, a new documentary exploring the legacy of celebrated urbanist, Jane Jacobs.

    The two-day event will be the first time that Open House Melbourne has partnered with a regional city.

    Here are a few of our favourite buildings from the inaugural program: 

    TWO HALVES HOUSE

    Two-Halves-House-Image-Christine-Francis.jpgPhotography by Christine Francis 

    When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm 

    Taking the pitched roof country house form and splitting it in half, the Moloney Architects-designed Two Halves House sets up a close relationship with its bush setting. The upper pavilion houses a cellular arrangement of bedrooms and bathrooms, while the lower pavilion is the more public side of the house. This lower level consists of a large, open living space with access to views on the south.

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    FORMER BALLARAT BAPTIST CHURCH

    Former-Ballarat-Baptist-Church-Image-Michael-Whitehead.jpgPhotography by Michael Whitehead 

    When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm

    This Classic Revival-style church – designed by Joseph Attwood Doane – was opened in November 1867 to replace the original weatherboard church that sat on the same site. After its period as a church, it was sold in 1972 and became a restaurant and reception centre, before serving as a nightclub throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It is currently being restored and repurposed as a residence. 

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    PIERMONT HOUSE 

    Piermont-House-Image-Shannon-McGrath.jpgPhotography by Shannon McGrath 

    When: Saturday, 11am – 4pm

    Designed by Rachcoff Vella Architecture, Piermont House is conceived as a uniquely sculptural form. The building is the starting point of a masterplan of sculpture and landscaped gardens on a 10-acre site. Well-crafted and custom-designed details were important to the overall design, such as the three-metre-wide front door and illuminated door handle, swivel vanity mirrors, school-desk library joinery, custom wardrobes, and gallery spaces.

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    ART GALLERY BALLARAT

    Art-Gallery-Image-John-Gollings.jpgPhotography by John Gollings 

    When: Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm
    Where: 40 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat Central

    Founded in 1884, the Art Gallery of Ballarat is the oldest and largest regional art gallery in Australia and was the first to be built outside a capital city in the overseas dominions of the British Empire. The main building was designed by Tappin, Gilbert & Dennehy, while the Annexe addition was designed by Searle x Waldron.

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    BALLARAT INTEGRATED REGIONAL CANCER CENTRE

    Ballarat-Integrated-Regional-Cancer-Centre-Image-Tony-Miller.jpgPhotography by Tony Miller 

    When: Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm
    Where: Corner Sturt and Drummond Street, Ballarat

    The Ballarat Integrated Regional Cancer Centre – designed by Billard Leece Partnership – is a patient-focused facility designed to reduce the physical and emotional strain of cancer treatment for patients and their families. Natural timbers line the interiors to reduce noise, while a sculpted roof and ceiling draw in natural light to provide a peaceful and calming environment. Radiation bunkers were designed to be less imposing, achieved with a floral ceiling pattern that can be lit up in a variety of ways.

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    BISHOPS PALACE GARDENS

    Bishops-Palace-Gardens.jpgImage: Open House Melbourne 

    When: Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm
    Where: 1444 Sturt Street, Lake Wednouree

    Designed by Reed and Barnes, this two-storey Gothic bluestone mansion from 1877 sits amid an 11-acre expanse of garden that features native trees, statues and a water feature. The Catholic Church commissioned the building as home for the bishop (Bishop O’Connor) and associated diocesan headquarters. It has been nurtured over the years by just two owners after the property was vacated by the bishops.

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    BALLARAT TOWN HALL

    Town-Hall-Image-City-of-Ballarat.jpgImage: City of Ballarat 

    When: Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 4pm
    Where: 225 Sturt Street, Ballarat

    The distinctive Classical Revival-style Ballarat Town Hall is thought to be one of only a few symmetrical Town Hall buildings in Victoria. The first Town Hall was built in 1856, but burnt down three years later. The Town Hall as it stands today was constructed according to the designs of three architects following an 1868 competition: J.T Lorenz (exterior), H.R Caselli (interior), and architect Percy Oakden to bring the two concepts together.

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