Sunday, November 3, 2013

Out and About in Perth (#5) - Open House Perth, 2013

Some of you may be familiar with the Open House scheme. It started in London in 1992, and has since extended to cities all around the world. 2012 was the first year for Open House Perth and we didn't know anything about it until after the event (!). This year, we were more organised and managed to visit a few of the open buildings on Saturday. I am glad we did, although as I forgot my camera, I am sharing images with you courtesy of my phone. I apologise for the dubious quality at times.

By Bishop's See Gardens, Perth.

Open House aims to give people a behind the scenes look at historical, architecturally significant and/or otherwise meaningful spaces. Mostly these spaces are buildings, but some are gardens or other types of architecture. This year, there were 65 sites open in Perth over 2 days. Clearly, you have to pick your priorities.

ABC recording trucks ready to go.

Our goal list included the Perth ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) building, Main Roads traffic operation centre, BHP Billiton building, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, and heritage listed Bishop's See gardens. In the end, we made it to three of these: the ABC building, BHP Billiton building, and gardens. The first two involved tours, whilst the last was a 'wander as you please' experience.

Where Perth ABC journalists do their work.

The ABC tour focused mostly on radio studios, as well as the large news room where journalists put stories together and prepare ahead of TV filming. It gave insight into what goes on behind what we see and hear and the amount of technology packed into the building was very impressive.

The BHP Billiton building from afar
(the one with the diagonal extension rising at the top).

The BHP Billiton building was completed just a few years ago, and is a 46 storey tower that is the second highest in Perth. (Perth, you may gather, does not have many sky scrapers.) It has distinctive external metal frames, and the inside was designed to promote collaboration between staff and give clean, flexible work areas.

Views from BHP Billiton's 45th floor.

We visited mostly for the views, which were great, but the interior ended up being just as interesting as the outside vistas. The 45th floor lunch room was quite amazing, with huge spaces and impressive kitchen gadgets for employees to use, all set against the view above. However, we learnt that it really needed to be amazing because the company has a 'no eating at your desk' policy, an extension of its broader 'clean desk' policy.

Fancy a meeting here?

In addition to the actual buildings, our visit into the city itself felt like an experience. We caught the train in, and utilised the free inner city buses for shuttling from one end of the city to the other. By 4pm, we were ready for refuelling and stopped for afternoon tea at Bocelli's Espresso. Do you have cafes in your own city that you have seen for years, and which always seem quite busy, but you've never actually eaten at? That was Bocelli's Espresso for me.

Mr Bite was seeking a cake and Coke, and ordered a generous slice of carrot cake for his food component. I later discovered that his real dream was chocolate mud cake, not available at Bocelli's, but he stoically got through most of the carrot cake regardless.

We managed an impressive quota of drinks for 2 people.

I was extremely thirsty, wanted a coffee, and also wanted food. Not having vegan afternoon tea options on offer (except for fruit toast off the breakfast menu, which I tend to use as a back up order for any time of day), I ended up with three drinks: a glass of water for my thirst, a soy cappuccino for the coffee component, and a dairy-free 'mango tango' smoothie for the food stand in. The smoothie included banana, orange juice, pineapple, passion fruit, and mango sorbet. It was sweeter than I am used to and more juice-like (i.e., less thick) but in conjunction with my other drinks it was more than sufficient to see me through the journey home.

In all, the day highlighted how nice it can be to play tourist in your own city, and I highly recommend Open House to you!

Have you visited / experienced Open House attractions yourself?


  1. playing tourist in your own town i s a great way to describe an open house day - I have done them in melbourne the last two years and enjoyed seeing parts of town I haven't had the chance to see either ever or for years. it is such a great initiative and your visits sounds interesting - I have found that the lunch room in different jobs has had an effect on whether I eat lunch there or al desko - though my last place had no lunch room which made me far more likely to eat al desko - a lunch room with a view is definitely my sort of lunch room.

    1. I loved reading your Melbourne posts so I was thrilled to be able to experience it in Perth (and horrified at myself for missing it last year!). I am pretty poor with taking lunch breaks and when I do try to get outside / walk briefly so almost always eat lunch at my desk - so would be terrible at BHP!

  2. I want an office on the 45th floor of the BHP building.

  3. This Open House seems like a great idea. would certainly have to be up early if you wanted to get through all buildings on the list! xx

    1. You would indeed! And up late too I think :-)

  4. I''m in England but haven't heard of the scheme. Sounds a lot of fun though, especially for someone as nosy as me! We open our garden as part of the National Open Gardens scheme but I guess that's completely different.It would be nice to find vegan afternoon tea options. I've heard a few hotels in London do a fancy vegan afternoon tea so I'm keen to try one!

    1. I think the National Open Gardens scheme is probably pretty similar but just with gardens instead of buildings! There are some vegan afternoon tea places in Perth were I am, but not that many - fancy vegan afternoon tea in London sounds amazing :D

  5. I hate it when I forget my camera! Your images are still pretty awesome though. Looks like London is the place to be if you give a crap about what you're consuming :)


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