Old Windmill Tower

Open House opens doors on local architecture


Brisbane’s most interesting buildings will once again be opening their doors to guests from October 12 to 13, as part of the 10th annual Brisbane Open House (BOH) event.

Old Windmill Tower
The old windmill tower on Wickham Terrace only opens up once a year for Brisbane Open House for 200 lucky people who can book in fast enough. Photo: Courtesy Paul Knie


The event lets visitors and residents explore the interior of buildings that they would normally only see from the outside, including both new and old buildings that offer a taste of something unique, historical, architecturally significant or beautiful.

Brisbane Open House (BOH) chair and Queensland Government architect, Malcolm Middleton, said each year BOH opened modern buildings along with historic ones, in the hope that the modern buildings would someday be a part of Brisbane’s architectural history.

“We try and pick contemporary buildings that we hope may be the heritage buildings of the future, for example, the QPAC complex,” Mr Middleton said.

“Generally good architecture from any era delivers great experiences through innovative use of materials and spaces created, and the pleasure of being in the place,” he said.

Brisbane Open House executive director Angie Scott said one of the most popular and booked out buildings in the Open House event was the Old Windmill Tower on Wickham Terrace, as residents were always eager to see the inside of the tower for the first time.

“It’s such a significant and important heritage building and it only opens on Open House, so that is always very popular,” Ms Scott said.

“It is really precious, so we can only have 200 people across the weekend [visit it] and there’s always a lot of disappointed people who can’t get into it,” she said.

Lachlan Nielsen worker's cottage East Brisbane
The Lachlan Neilsen designed worker’s cottage in East Brisbane was bought in a state of ruin and has been redesigned to maintain the original scale. Photo: Andy Macpherson


Lachlan Nielsen, of architectural firm Nielsen Jenkins, designed the renovations to the 1880s worker’s cottage that is featured on the front cover of this year’s Brisbane Open House program.

Mr Neilsen said the East Brisbane house, which he lives in, was in a state of ruin when he bought it, having not been lived in for 35 years.

He said this meant the detailing couldn’t be saved, but said he worked to keep the scale and the layout of the house.

“We did restore some traditional features of the cottage, our main commitment, though, was to keep the scale of the house by not raising it, and also the scale of the rooms within it,” Mr Nielsen said.

“Even when we opened up existing rooms within the plan, we maintained the old walls above the picture rail so that the scale of the original spaces was acknowledged and not lost,” he said.

Mr Neilsen said he was honoured for the Nielsen Jenkins creation to make BOH’s cover and couldn’t wait for people to get a glimpse of the inside of his worker’s cottage.

“This is our second time in BOH and it is as exciting as the first,” he said.

“It’s great to be a part of an event that promotes design and allows people to see projects first hand instead of in pictures,” Mr Neilsen said.

Mercedes Benz AutoHaus
The weekend will also showcase several modern buildings that may well be heritage listed in the future. Photo: Joseph Byford


“We are very honoured to be on the cover and we’re looking forward to big crowds in the little house!”

This year Brisbane Open House will take place on October 12 and 13, coinciding with World Architecture Day, which has encouraged event organisers to host a number architectural seminars and lectures in the lead up to BOH.

Angie Scott said BOH were working with the Australian Institute of Architects, a professional body for Australian architects, to offer professional seminars.

She said BOH was even bringing over Charu Kokate from Singapore, the principal and director of Safdie Architects, who are known for designing Singapore architectural icons such as the Marina Bay Sands luxury hotel.

“She’s got a really unique perspective on creativity and architecture, and bringing communities together through design,” Ms Scott said.

“I think the international lecture [is what] I’m probably the most excited about – it’s brand new, and it’s something we’ve never done before,” she said.

Peakaboo House
There will be 119 buildings open across the weekend, allowing residents to see the inside of buildings they have only ever seen from the outside. Photo courtesy: Jad Sylla


Ms Scott said customers would easily be able to reach all locations across the weekend as BOH would be offering free shuttle buses for the first time.

She said the buses would allow the passengers to explore one of three routes around the city centre, Spring Hill or South Brisbane.

The bus routes will be offered in addition to BOH’s usual walking route guides, allowing attendees to easily explore what the event has to offer.

“The feedback we get every year is for shuttle buses and we just can never afford to do that, but this year the Queensland Omnibus & Coach Society (QOCS) approached us to partner with them,” she said.

“Their whole business is that they have a bunch of heritage buses that they want to make available to as many people as possible.”

Brisbane Open House is a free event that will be held at venues around Brisbane from Saturday, October 12 to Sunday, October 13.

For more information about Brisbane Open House, visit brisbaneopenhouse.com.au.

Leave a Reply