About Us

Open House Melbourne is a public architecture organisation that advocates for better-designed cities by encouraging civic participation. 

Open House Melbourne runs a program of talks, tours, workshops, interviews, and special programs exploring the issues, challenges, and success stories of our built environment.

At the heart of the annual program is the Open House Weekend in Melbourne and now Ballarat, where people visit significant buildings and sites across their city to learn how the built environment and urban planning initiatives and issues influence our culture and shape our future.  

By empowering people with knowledge around the impact of good design decisions in our built environment, we  ensure our cities are liveable and vibrant places now and in the future. 

Since 2008, Open House Melbourne has facilitated more than 900,000 visits to 934 sites across Melbourne, enabling 229,660 people to explore and celebrate their city. Open House has contributed more than $20 million to the Melbourne economy and has been supported by more than 5,226 volunteers who have donated over 26,130 hours of their time.



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

First started in London 25 years ago and now in 35 cities around the world, the success of the Open House Weekend is due to its approach of offering diverse, direct design experiences, free-of-charge, in a non-elitist manner. It annually reaches 750,000 people worldwide—the largest audience of any public-facing architecture program.

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
Eleni Kaponis, Special Programs 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

Shaun Newing, Managing Director, Planum Partners
Founding Board Member and Open House Melbourne Vice President

Von Slater, Development Manager, Armitage Jones
Open House Melbourne Board Member and Secretary

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

Sally Dobell, CEO, Cornwell
Open House Melbourne Board Member

Danielle Johnston, Consultant
Open House Melbourne Board Member

Alison Cleary, 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, Neil Harkness, Damien Sabatini, P Joy Villalino

Building Council

John Bahoric, Kieran Leong, Tim Leslie, Leo Martin, Lynne Pepper, Adam Pustola, 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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