OHM 2013: Building E16 - Urban Workshop

Open House Melbourne 2013 entered its fifth year on the ever growing Melbourne events calendar this weekend. Boasting over 100 buildings open to the public all over town, it is a stark contrast to the eight that opened their doors along the Swanston Street spine during the event's inception.

For the second year running I volunteered my services and having completed a shift at Trades Hall in Carlton last year I found myself stationed at Urban Workshop, located at 50 Lonsdale Street in the 'East Precinct.' We had over 400 visitors walk through the doors and take a guided tour of the ground floor lobby by historian Michelle Summerton, as well as the 33rd floor offices of Australian Super who managed the operation of the building for OHM2013.

Urban Workshop Streetscape

The site has a rich history forming part of the notorious 'Little Lon' red light district and once featured a network of laneways that dissected the site in amongst 10 cottages. One of these lane ways is retraced on the paving in the foyer spelling out 'Little Leichardt". The name of another laneway pays homage to a colourful character in Melbourne's past, brothel owner, Madame Brussels.

The current development was designed by John Wardle, Hassell and NH Architecture and was to be constructed by Grocon, yet after a fresh tender process Multiplex ultimately built the complex which became the new home of the Department of Human Services and Australian Super amongst others. The redevelopment incorporated two 19th century buildings into the revitalised streetscape, including what was one of Melbourne's first pubs. Prior to construction commencing, an archeological dig was undertaken on site uncovering over 300,000 artifacts, which are now on display in an installation curated by local artist Rosslynd Piggot, on the ground floor.

For now here are some shots I took from the street and from up on level 33 for those of you who missed out. Ciao.

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Urban Workshop from Meyers Place
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