on October 10, 2017 See + Do

The old, new and elusive - top picks for Open House weekend

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OPEN House Melbourne (OHM) will be coming to the region this month for what is its first regional program ever. Now that's a big deal!

Having started in London 25 years ago, OHM facilitates opportunities for residents to directly experience how architectural design can improve their lives.

The Open House Ballarat (OHB) program will see more than 20 locales across the city open to the public. With a mix of heritage and contemporary, the buildings and landscapes will celebrate Ballarat's historic, new and elusive, while providing insight into what architectural excellence looks like.

Here are five of the spots you can check out during the OHB weekend:


Loreto College

Open House Ballarat Loreto Chapel

You might not know it, but the Loreto school in Ballarat was the first in Australia. Established in 1875 by Mother Gonzaga Barry and her community of sisters, the college is built in an English Gothic style with French influence. The chapel, also built in the late 1800s to early 1900s, has an awe-inspiring interior decorated in soft pastels, a majestic Organ Gallery, and symbols of Catholic saints and evangelists.


Two Halves House (booked out)

Two Halves House Open Ballarat

Nestled into the stunning natural Australian bush, the split-level Two Halves House takes the pitched-roof, country house form, and divides it in half. The two halves of the house are offset from one another, separated to drastically improve access to northern light. It's a work of contemporary wonder and sustainable living worth exploring.


Former Ballarat Baptist Church (booked out)

Here's an opportunity to take a look inside one of Ballarat's more mysterious buildings. A rare and imposing Greco-Roman temple or Classic Revival style church, this place of worship was opened in November 1867 to replace the original weatherboard church on the same site. The building is currently undergoing a restoration, so this is a one-off chance to look inside a heritage site that is being repurposed as an ultra-modern residnece.


MARS Stadium


Ballarat's redeveloped Mars Stadium is Australia's leading regional sports stadium. This $21.9 million multipurpose facility is designed to host a variety of outdoor sports, concerts and events. Featuring AFL-standard match-day facilities, it was officially unveiled in August this year in time to play host to the first bounce of AFL in Ballarat when the Western Bulldogs played Port Adelaide.


Webster Street House (booked out)

Webster Street House Ballarat Open

A perfect fusion of contemporary and historic, the Webster Street House explores the issues of how to update a heritage building to meet the demands of modern life. The original historic home was extensively renovated and restored before a contemporary living space was added on for the owners' large family. 

Open House Ballarat will be held on October 28 and 29. Of the 21 buildings open on the weekend, 16 will be open access, self-guided or with guided tours, while the remainder will require pre-booking. There will also be a series of special events featured in the program.

Images courtesy of Open House Melbourne.

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