The annual Open House Melbourne returns this year with an invitation to explore, understand and reconnect with the diverse and rapidly growing city.

Estimated to grow to over 8 million people by 2050, Melbourne not only brings great opportunities but also significant challenges for the future – challenges that have never been more urgent to address as the city responds to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The built environment community must find new ways to reconnect and envisage transformative ways to live and work better together.

Reconnect: OHM 2021 is a hybrid program of public events, talks and building tours for the highly anticipated Open House Melbourne Weekend set for Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July 2021.

"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 wellbeing,” says Fleur Watson, executive director and chief curator of Centre for Architecture Victoria | Open House Melbourne (CAV|OHM).

“We can reclaim the agency for design in shaping the public good and, in turn, redesign our values, systems and spaces and achieve a more adaptable, equitable and sustainable future for our built environment.”

Extending on the success of last year’s fully digital program, the 2021 edition of Open House Melbourne will feature both real-life and online events.

Building tour highlights for Open House Melbourne 2021:

Melbourne Connect, University of Melbourne

Melbourne has a new purpose-built innovation precinct powered by the University of Melbourne in partnership with a consortium led by Lendlease. Melbourne Connect is a digital and data powerhouse built on the former site of the Royal Women’s Hospital. It 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. Designed by acclaimed architectural firms Woods Bagot and Hayball, the 75,800sqm precinct boasts smart and sustainable design including on-site rainwater harvesting as well as solar and geothermal energy.

Science Gallery Melbourne

Occupying 3,800sqm within Melbourne Connect, Science Gallery Melbourne explores the collision of art and science through bold exhibitions aimed at young people aged between 15–25 and is part of the acclaimed Global Science Gallery Network pioneered by Trinity College Dublin. The internal galleries designed by Smart Design Studio include large-scale, flexible exhibition, event, education, laboratory, retail and theatre spaces as well as social areas. A special Open House Melbourne tour will speak to the site’s First Nations history, its innovative design, and its unique intersection between arts and science.

The Victorian Pride Centre

Take a tour of the new Pride Centre – Australia's first LGBTIQ+ purpose-built centre designed to bring the LGBTIQ+ community together as a cultural, social and services hub. Designed by Brearley Architects & Urbanists (BAU) and Grant Amon Architects, the Pride Centre offers an open door to the whole community who share their values of equality, diversity and inclusivity. These tours will be the first look into the new Pride Centre, connecting the diverse parts of the LGBTIQ+ community and providing a vital link with the general community.

Melbourne Quakers Centre

The Quakers Centre in Melbourne sits on a triangular site on the edge of the CBD. As the main centre for Quakers across Victoria, it is a destination and symbol for the pursuit of world peace, a core belief and pursuit of the Quakers. Designed by Nervegna Reed Architecture and pH architects, OHM tours will offer a first look into the centre since construction was undertaken during the 2020 lockdowns.

Brunswick Design District (BDD)

Encompassing locations including Brunswick Town Hall, Mechanics Institute, Site Works and more, the BDD connects people, places and partnerships to support and strengthen Melbourne’s creative community. The OHM tours invite the wider community into spaces not normally open to the public, as well as the opportunity to meet the individual creators, designers and practitioners within their working spaces.

New highlights and old favourites return to the OHM building tour program, including Collins Arch, Melbourne Quarter Sky Park, The Capitol RMIT, State Library Victoria, Koori Heritage Trust, Villa Alba Museum, Collingwood Yards and many more.

Featured public events for Open House Melbourne 2021:

Living Cities Forum

Thursday 22 July, The Edge, Federation Square

Presented by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation (NMF) the Living Cities Forum will deliver its fourth program of cross-disciplinary talks over the course of the day. The event will feature keynote addresses from globally renowned thinkers including author Bruce Pascoe, British philosopher Timothy Morton, Indian architect Anupama Kundoo, and Belgian designer Maarten Gielen. Celebrated Torres Strait chef, Nornie Bero, and her team at Mabu Mabu will provide fresh, seasonal, native food for morning tea and lunch. CAV|OHM is excited to be partnering with the Living Cities Forum with a satellite public program that will be announced in the coming weeks. To book tickets for the Living Cities Forum please visit

This is Public

Friday 23 July, The Capitol

This is Public is an opening celebration, public conversation and podcast series that will launch the OHM Weekend and is co-presented with The Capitol RMIT on Swanston Street. Featuring six short presentations by leading architects, designers and creative practitioners on the theme of ‘Reconnect’, This is Public asks us to examine the way we occupy our city and to consider new ways of designing and adapting our buildings, infrastructure and systems towards a better future for our city and our communities. The July 2021 edition of This is Public is supported by The Capitol, RMIT School of Architecture & Urban Design, Naomi Milgrom Foundation / Living Cities Forum and Assemble Papers.

Your Ground – walking tours for more equitable communities

OHM Weekend 24 and 25 July, roving locations

For many women and gender diverse people, moving around their local community is complex and requires the avoidance of certain places, restricting movement and changing preferred patterns. Monash University’s gender, design and space specialists, XYX Lab, and award-winning digital consultancy, CrowdSpot, have teamed up with government partners to crowdsource perceptions of safety in public space. In this collection of walking tours, all members of the community are invited to join in a discussion about the spatial typologies where movement and access are restricted for women and gender-diverse people and to consider how we can design more equitable communities.

Reading Aloud with OFFICE x Melbourne Art Library

OHM Weekend 24 and 25 July, roving locations

What histories can we read in the urban landscape? What is written for the future? How can the reading and sharing of information challenge hierarchies of collective memory, and of power? Melbourne Art Library and OFFICE co-present a series of discussions on the past and future of Naarm/Melbourne, staged within historic and typically inaccessible sites. Melbourne-based academics, activists, and artists will lead conversations about the events that have taken place within these particular buildings, and will speculate on events to come. Each space will host a library of curated texts from the Melbourne Art Library collection – to be browsed and read before and after each talk. Opening these spaces for reading, gathering, and discussion gives Melbourne’s citizens greater agency to intervene in our city’s future.

Find out more about the Open House Melbourne 2021 program.

Photo credits:

Melbourne Connect and Science Gallery Melbourne, Woods Bagot & Smart Design Studio (Photo: Peter Casamento)

The Victorian Pride Centre, Brearley Architects & Urbanists (BAU) and Grant Amon Architects (Photo: Luke David Photography)

Collins Arch public domain, Woods Bagot / SHoP Architects and OCULUS (Photo: Trevor Mein)

Melbourne Quarter Sky Park, Aspect OCULUS (Photo: Alison Hoelzer)