26 Oct 2018

Earlier this month, Brisbane threw open its doors to some of its most treasured places and buildings for all to see. In its ninth year, Brisbane Open House (BOH) allowed curious minds and architecture enthusiasts the chance to see behind the scenes of this great city. Once again in 2018, Urbis was keen supporter and sponsor of this exciting event.

Either on the ground at sites around the city, or presenting at festival events, the Urbis #cityshaper team was immersed in this year’s program. In the lead up to the Gold Coast Open House, for which Urbis is also a sponsor, we reflect on the success of BOH.

Since its humble beginnings in 2010, with just 20 buildings, BOH has grown to open 114 buildings and places in 2018. The program has also grown to incorporate lead-up events such as Pecha Kucha and the Great Debate. Urbis has a special connection with BOH, with Director Ben Lyons and Associate Director Stewart Armstrong both being BOH Committee members for seven years.

Despite all the laughs, it was an important topic for our great City - Is Brisbane having an identity crisis?

Ben Lyons View Profile

Ben Lyons and Director Natalie Hoitz enjoyed the opportunity of sharing their city and community shaping expertise at two of the festival events. Natalie explored the significant Queen’s Wharf development, sharing insights and updates with the keen Pecha Kucha crowd.

Sharing her experience of the event, Nat said, “What a terrific event showcasing so many different ideas and topics about cities. Speaking for only 6 minutes and 40 seconds on the biggest inner-city redevelopment project in the State’s history was a bit harrowing at first. In the end it really focussed the mind and was enormous fun.”

Taking to the stage at the Great Debate, Ben Lyons fired up about Queensland’s capital city’s ‘identity crisis’. Reflecting on the heated, but entertaining debate, Ben said, “It was so much fun participating in the Brisbane Open House 2018 ‘Great Debate’ event. Despite all the laughs, it was an important topic for our great City – Is Brisbane having an identity crisis?”

Natalie Hoitz and Ben Lyons at Brisbane Open House 2018 events, Pecha Kucha and the Great Debate.

The main event, the BOH weekend, was launched at The Tivoli Theatre in Fortitude Valley. Associate Director Tina King and Senior Consultant Holly Maclean both had the pleasure of celebrating the start of the great event and then joining the VIP tour of Brisbane Skytower. Viewing Brisbane from above sure provided the heritage and archaeologist experts a whole new perspective of their city.

Tina reflected, “It was such a great opportunity to visit this new building. It provided a new perspective on Brisbane from that height.”

With proceedings underway, many of our team were on the ground to guide explorers through the unlocked places. Senior Landscape Architect Hiroshi Uchida volunteered at the now fully automated Port of Brisbane, a place that has changed significantly from his days of working nearby.

Associate Director Scott Richards took a splash at the Spring Hill Baths. Opened in 1886, it is one of the oldest covered swimming pools in the world and a rare surviving example – a jewel of Brisbane and the BOH program. Meanwhile, Stewart Armstrong volunteered at the Old Government Printing Office, the former Public Service Club in William Street.

Urbis volunteers, including Stewart Armstrong and Scott Richards, on the ground at Brisbane Open House 2018.

Boasting an expansive and thoroughly enjoyable program, this year’s BOH was once again a phenomenal success. It is part of the international Open House program which now includes over 40 cities.

The global initiative makes a very important contribution to shaping our cities for a better future; Inviting the community to experience and enjoy the qualities and benefits of good design helps lift the expectation and understanding of new built environments in our city.

Next up, Gold Coast Open House. With doors unlocked all of Saturday 27 October, it is sure to be yet another event filled with wonder and enlightenment. Urbis is excited to be a strong supporter and sponsor for this important event too.