About Us

We are a public architecture organisation that empowers citizens to be active particpants in the building of their city.

By empowering people with knowledge about the outcomes of good design decisions in our built environment, we aim to ensure Melbourne remains a liveable and vibrant city now and in the future.

We run an annual program of talks, tours, workshops and interviews that explore issues, challenges and success stories of Melbourne's built environment. At the heart of our program is the Open House Weekend, where people visit significant buildings and sites across the city to learn about how the built environment and urban planning initiatives and issues influence our culture and shape our future.

_We aim to create a sense of civic pride by celebrating the city through its built environment and active citizenship by empowering people with knowledge about the city's changing urban environment.

_We provide an alternative method of community engagement because we are an independent and apolitical organisation that acts as a bridge between government, the architectural profession, and the public in an open, non-hierarchical dialogue.

_We encourage better exchange of knowledge and ideas through informal learning opportunities and by encouraging people to reflect on what they have seen, heard and learned.

_Linking to current issues builds a groundswell of interest around critical issues for the city and feeds into policy thinking.

_Open House is an independent platform in which policymakers, architects, and industry professionals can engage directly with the public.

Open House Melbourne is the result of an initiative by the Committee for Melbourne, Future Focus Group, and is part of the Open House Worldwide Network, founded by Open House London.

Open House Worldwide

The Open House concept was founded in London in 1992 by Victoria Thornton, aiming to create a wider community able to engage with architecture on their own terms and argue for a better quality of built environment.

Open House facilitates opportunities for a city’s inhabitants to directly experience how well-designed cities can improve their lives, by opening examples of architectural excellence to the public. These experiences stimulate dialogue about architecture and learning, which empowers people to advocate for a well- designed built environment.

The concept resonated with cities internationally and the organic growth of independent Open House cities led to the creation of the Open House Worldwide Family of affiliated cities in 2010, which has grown to more than 30 cities across five continents. The exponential growth of the concept suggests it is an international zeitgeist, revealing a global need for the experiences that Open House curates. It also signifies that the Open House concept is readily translatable. Direct experience is a universal means of ‘learning’ – it requires no specific or specialist knowledge or language and can be applied in any city.

The core of the Open House concept is simple, but powerful; facilitating direct experience of architectural excellence, free-of-charge, in a non-elitist manner as part of a process of catalysing design advocacy. The Open House approach is independent, apolitical, inclusive, and accessible. Open House is a worldwide phenomenon with common values, but each city operates at a local level – a feature that is critical to its success in a particular city. Programmes respond to the particularities of the local environment.

Our People

The Organisation

Open House Melbourne was founded by eight professionals under the aegis of the Committee for Melbourne’s 2008 Future Focus Group (FFG) leadership program. As the first event of its kind in Australia, the inaugural Melbourne Open House (its original title) in 2008 and the 2009 event were delivered under the FFG program.

Open House Melbourne became an independent entity in 2009 as an incorporated, not-for-profit association. Open House Melbourne is a self-sustaining, built environment focused public education organisation, and in 2011, continued its leadership role in this sector by becoming the first Southern Hemisphere member city to join the global network of Open House Worldwide.


Emma Telfer, Executive Director
Victoria Bennett, Program and Business Manager
Jordan Ormandy-Neale, Community Engagement Manager
Eleni Kaponis, Producer


In addition to the team and a vital and dedicated group of volunteers, Open House Melbourne is governed by seven committee management Committee Members: 

Tim Leslie, Studio Director, Bates Smart Pty Ltd
Founding Board Member and Open House Melbourne President

Mark Davis, Engagement Director, August
Open House Melbourne Vice President

Steven Neave, General Manager Electricity Networks, CitiPower and Powercor Australia Ltd
Founding Board Member and Secretary

Matthew Bowen CA, Director Boss Private Clients
Open House Melbourne Board Member and Treasurer

Mary Dougherty, Senior Project Manager
Open House Melbourne Board Member

Sally Dobell, CEO, Cornwell
Open House Melbourne Board Member

Danielle Johnston, Consultant
Open House Melbourne Board Member


Our Ambassador, Peter Maddison

Architect, Grand Designs Australia Host, and champion of good design, Peter generously dedicates so much time to raising the profile of our organisation.

Volunteer Council

Damien Butler, Elizabeth Cyarto, Jacqueline Diblasi, Neil Harkness, Nick Rouse, Damien Sabatini, P Joy Villalino

Building Council

John Bahoric, Kieran Leong, Leo Martin, Lynne Pepper, Adam Pustola, Peter Knight, Kat Smith, Anna O’Sullivan,

Association Members

Emma Appleton, Paul Borella, Damian Butler, Nic Culnane, Jacqueline DiBlasi, Jim Gard'ner, Marcis Harkins, Kim Irons, Eleni Kaponis, Kieran Leong, Nathan Milesi, Shaun Newing, Sophie Newing, Anna O'Sullivan, Lynne Pepper, John Petit, Adam Pustola, Nick Rouse, Von Slater, Kat Smith, Steve Stefanopoulos, Laura Sullivan, Charles Tremlett, Rohan Trollope, P.Joy Villalino, Margot Willemsen.




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