The projects which are selected for showcase in the Open House Melbourne program recognise buildings and spaces which offer solutions to city challenges and focus on design excellence, sustainability and innovation.

In 2019, Umow Lai are proud to have collaborated on 7 projects which will open their doors to the public on the 27th and 28th of July. The full program for the weekend and other events happening across July is available online, or you can take our word for it and visit the crème de la crème in design and engineering at the projects we have had the pleasure of being involved with below.

Bio21 Institute

Bio21 Institute - The University of Melbourne
The Bio21 Institute is a molecular science and biotechnology institute. It is a community of brilliant scientists, equipped with the most cutting-edge instrumentation, working together to improve human health and the environment through innovation in biotechnology and molecular sciences, driven by multidisciplinary research and dynamic interactions with industry. The Bio21 Institute was built with collaboration in mind. The architects built bridges across the atrium with break-out spaces to meet and chat. The Institute is home to groups across the three STEMM faculties of the University of Melbourne (Science; Medicine Dentistry and Health Sciences and the Melbourne School of Engineering). The Bio21 community also includes industry members, CSL Ltd, Alterity Pharmaceuticals, Circa Group, Rhythm Biosciences, SYNthesis Research & Med Chem and First Biotech. The Bio21 research environment consists of well-resourced platform technology facilities that house powerful research instruments. Some of our facilities represent the largest of their kind in Australia, with cutting edge instruments and led by highly regarded national experts in their respective technologies, including Magnetic Resonance, Advanced Microscopy, Protein Characterisation and The Margaret Sheil laboratories in the Nancy Millis building house the Melbourne Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics platform and Metabolomics Australia platform.

Open: Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 July 10am-4pm

For more information visit: Bio21 Institute, David Penington and Nancy Millis Building

The Stables

The former Victoria Police Mounted Branch stables and riding school on Dodds Street have been transformed into dynamic spaces for the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music – proud home to the Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

Designed by Kerstin Thompson Architects with conservation works directed by Lovell Chen, The Stables was officially reopened on Monday 14 May 2018 by the Hon. Martin Foley MP, Minister for Creative Industries.

The Stables boast a visual arts wing including new artist studios, exhibition spaces and office accommodation, as well as a multi-purpose space, the Martyn Myer Arena. with provision for theatre, dance, music theatre and music performances. Heritage features of the former police stables are maintained through the preservation of its bluestone mounting yards, red brick façade and unique octagonal roof and skylight.

The Stables refurbishment is part of a larger Southbank campus transformation which continues the University’s commitment to providing students with world-class facilities to enhance their learning, and offers the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music opportunities to expand community engagement, foster new partnerships, and contribute to Melbourne’s thriving arts scene.

Open: Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 July 10am-3.45pm (Bookings required)

Arts West

Arts West is the University of Melbourne’s new home to the Bachelor of Arts. Laser cut metal fins form a striking façade that features monolithic images of select objects from the University’s cultural collections. The clarity of these images changes depending on the viewer’s position, the light and the atmosphere.

Designed by Victorian architectural firms ARM and Architectus, the Arts West redevelopment comprises seven levels. The building has been designed to influence the way students are taught, with an emphasis on spaces that foster learning communities.

Facilities include object-based learning laboratories, and displays for relics and archival materials. The building also includes a digital studio, facilities for collaborative project-based learning, an interactive theatre, and lecture and discursive spaces.

With the Bachelor of Arts one of the largest undergraduate degree programs at the University, Arts West is now home to 40+ areas of study and more than 6,000 students.

Open: Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 July 10am-4pm

Melbourne School of Design

Located at the centre of the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus, the Glyn Davis building houses the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning and its graduate school, the Melbourne School of Design. The state-of-the-art facility, designed collaboratively by John Wardle Architects (Melbourne) and NADAAA (Boston), is a large-scale laboratory for built environment education and research, and sets a new standard for design education in the Asia-Pacific region.

A living learning building, the site has been an educational tool since 2010. Its transparency supports the vision of a pedagogical space with carefully exposed materials and structures allowing occupants insight into the minds of the designers and the processes of construction.

Open: Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 July 10am-4pm

Old Quad

With iconic archways and a bold architectural presence, Old Quad is the oldest building on the Parkville campus and the strongest connection to the University’s fledgling years. A key architectural figure in Melbourne’s history, Old Quad is also the first university building in Australia; its foundation stone laid on the same day as the State Library of Victoria. It has been recently restored to reaffirm its place as the cultural, civic, engagement and ceremonial heart of the University.

Originally built in classic Tudor style, the building has supported and sustained the University’s growth over the past 160 years. It has a rich history as the first site for Arts and Law teaching, the University library, Council Chambers, and professorial residence.

The Old Quad’s new chapter is a recently completed extensive restoration project of the North Wing and Annexe. The north accommodates a stunning new point for entry with large-scale stained-glass installation, Towards a glass monument, by artist Tom Nicholson. The new ground floor Treasury exhibition space showcases Ancestral Memory, which tells the story of water on the lands of the Kulin Nation. Diving into the history of Old Quad’s location, the Kulin Nation, cultural advisor Jefa Greenaway says, ‘[w]hat transpired from this research was that the story of water has always been and continues to be very important to this place. It is a story that traverses the campus.’ A powerful demonstration of resilience, Maree Clarke’s Ancestral Memory launches the Old Quad into the next chapter while keeping a firm grasp on the past.

Open: Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 July 10am-4pm

Abbotsford Convent

Photo credit: Derek Swalwell

Today an engine room of creativity and home to more than 150 artists, writers, thinkers, makers and creators, the Abbotsford Convent was once one of the largest Catholic complexes in Australia. Founded by The Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1863, the Abbotsford Convent operated as a monastic site until 1975, providing refuge, education and shelter for thousands of women and girls, many of whom lived in the Sacred Heart building and worked in the Magdalen Laundry. Inscribed on the National Heritage List in 2017, the Convent is recognised for demonstrating Australia’s social and welfare history through the lens of a religious and charitable institution. The architectural style of the Convent’s 11 buildings range from French Gothic/Medieval and European Baroque Revival, to the utilitarian early colonial architecture of the original Industrial School. Most buildings were constructed between 1868 and 1908. The Convent’s Magdalen Laundries and asylum buildings are an important physical record for those Australians and their families known as the Forgotten Australians. The Laundries have been partly restored this year and will feature in the Open House program for the first time.

Open: Sunday 28 July 11am-3.30pm (Bookings Required Abbotsford Convent)

The Eastbourne

Render credit: Bates Smart Architecture

Opposite Melbourne’s beloved Fitzroy Gardens and on the former site of the Dallas Brooks Hall, The Eastbourne is a new complex of 245 luxury apartments. Housing the new headquarters of Freemasons Victoria, partners in the development with Mirvac and architects Bates Smart, the design is influenced by the site’s history and location.
Featuring up to seven-bedroom residences and two-level terraces at ground level, The Eastbourne is crowned by a Grand Pavilion Penthouse. Extensive landscaping aims to integrate the building’s presence into the adjacent Fitzroy gardens and create a green sanctuary for residents on the doorstep of the city.

Open Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 July 10am-3pm (Bookings Required The Eastbourne)