We really enjoyed Brisbane Open House on Saturday 1 October 2011 – our first time participating in this architectural event. If you’re not familiar with Brisbane Open House, it’s when the doors of many Brisbane city buildings, usually closed to the public, are flung open. In 2014, this happens on the weekend of 11 & 12 October. So you get to see spectacular views from high level conference rooms, backstage areas, secured sites usually out-of-bounds to the public and the inner sanctums of buildings.
The event began in Brisbane in 2010 and was instantly popular. In fact, in 2010, some of the venues were caught off guard by the number of people visiting. I was chatting with one of the volunteers at the Masonic Memorial Temple who said during their first Open House they had 2,000 visitors in four hours! The next year they had 45 volunteers on hand to direct people and answer questions (and yes, we found they were very well organised).
There is a photography competition associated with the event, so take your camera along.
There were four adults and two children in our group, so we chose five buildings to visit with the hope that the kids wouldn’t get too tired. (In 2011 there were 30 buildings participating. In 2014, there are over 100 building open to the public.)
Our first stop was Brisbane Square and the Brisbane Traffic Control Centre which was opened to the public for the first time ever. It was very interesting to see how all of the cameras are monitored and learn what happens when there’s an emergency on the roads or in a bus or train station. I reckon every time I walk near a street camera from now on, I’ll wave, just in case the camera is being monitored at that moment. My take-away piece of advice is: If you ever consider parking in a clearway on a Brisbane road – don’t. It’s so disruptive to peak hour traffic that they tow cars away very quickly and there’s a big fine.
In the same building on level 16, we visited the conference room. I can’t imagine being able to concentrate if I was in a meeting there because the views are spectacular (photo above).
We tried to visit the nearby Treasury Heritage Hotel, but the tours were booked out. City Hall had a long queue which we decided to skip. Quite a few of the buildings had booked out tours, so for next year, we’ll get there early.
We popped into the Masonic Memorial Temple on Ann Street which has a beautiful Grand Hall (photo above). The volunteers were happy to answer questions and even allowed my son to sit in the Grand Master’s big chair for a photo.
Another highlight was a QPAC’s concert hall where we got to hear the impressively loud pipe organ being played. In the foyer outside, we listened to a rehearsal. There were also back stage tours during the day.
Brisbane Open House gets bigger and better each year. You can sign up for the newsletter on the Brisbane Open House website or follow on Twitter @brisopenhouse. In 2014 there are guided walks and a special program for children along with talks by Brisbane producers making boutique products.
This event is very popular so there is a ballot system for booking tours of some of the buildings. Check the website for details: http://www.brisbaneopenhouse.com.au/ballot-bookings