Open Nature 2022: A Curated Guide by Fleur Watson

Posted Sat 19th Mar 2022 | Isabella Radevski

Open Nature is OHM’s new series for Melbourne Design Week 2022 expanding on our previous and much-loved Waterfront program.

Open Nature explores a growing movement towards ecologically responsive, ‘more than human’ design practice that recognises the complex interrelations between humans and non-humans.

Critical to this movement is our collective understanding that the health and sustainability of our natural ecosystems are vital to a thriving future for everyone. For this ‘selected guide’, we have focussed on just 10 programs choosing one event each day with a specific focus on ‘citizen-led’ advocacy and ‘learning through doing’.

Beyond the 10 selected here, there are 20 events and programs in total – bookings are essential so please explore the full program here and register your ticket.

We look forward to kayaking, walking, making, listening and touring together for Open Nature 2022!

—Fleur Watson, Executive Director & Chief Curator, Open House Melbourne    


“The diverse range of programs offered for Open Nature raise public awareness of design’s vital role in creating better outcomes for our natural world and our built environment yet, importantly, are also informative, participatory and fun!” – Fleur Watson

Friday 18 March, 12.30–2.30pm

1. Shuck Structures & Biomimicry

Commence your Open Nature adventure with this extensive opening event that marks the opening event of the program. ‘Shuck Structures’ expands upon last year’s very popular workshop ‘Breaking Down the Urchin’ from 2021.

This year, we take a leisurely, participatory ‘river float’ up the Birrarung –Yarra aboard The Yarra Countess hosted by Long Prawn in collaboration with designer Alex Goad.

A short talk by Alex Goad will introduce his studio’s extraordinary work investigates how we can design recuperative structures for temperate marine ecosystems that are in decline. Combining parametric design with 3D printing and traditional manufacturing, Goad’s work develops ‘ecological structures’ as replacements and aids for damaged maritime ecosystems.

Following on from Goad’s inspirational talk, we will be guided by culinary creatives Long Prawn to discover how ‘considered eating’ can help support our marine ecosystems. Participants will have a hands-on experience and learn about the sustainable value of shucking and eating oysters before making their own oyster knife with a handle made from ocean waste.

Book the Workshop

Saturday 19 March, 10am–12pm

2. Regenerating the Ecologies of Bay West

Don’t miss this enlightening and easy-ride bicycle tour especially created and guided by Andy Fergus and Mike Skiba of Archi-Tours. The tour commences at Williamstown Train Station and explores Port Phillip Bay’s western edge, tracking upstream from Williamstown’s Port to the mangrove colony and shacks of the Kororoit Creek estuary.

This tour will reveal the often-overlooked network of extraordinary wetlands, estuaries and coastal reserves that provide valuable habitat for a diverse array of plant and animal life. We will also discover the significant biodiversity that flourishes in this area and its ‘well-kept secret’ status.

The tour follows a series of projects which have contributed to the restoration of the coast as a significant metropolitan landscape and ecological corridor and considers how we might consider more sensitive and appropriate urban development projects for the future.


Sunday 20 March, 10am–12pm

3. The Heart Gardening Project

Emma Cutting is a self-described amateur naturalist, plantswoman and avid street garden – she is also the author of the Melbourne Pollinator Corridor handbook – a must-have resource for aspiring street gardeners, bird and bee lovers alike.

Together with her friends and community, Emma has spearheaded a local movement called the ‘Heart Gardening Project’ which, at its core, is a citizen-led community project that brings humans and street gardening together. 

Meet Emma in person, hear about her wonderful book and join us for a tour of guided walking tour of community gardens across the City of Port Phillip and be inspired to start one in your own neighbourhood!



Sunday 20 March, 2.30pm–5pm

4. The Great Birrarung Parkland by Boat

On Sunday, we return to the water, for a leisurely boat trip along the Birrarung – Yarra River with a very special afternoon to discuss the future for the ‘Great Birrarung Parkland’.

Starting with a smoking ceremony on land, the tour will be led by Elders from the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and Birrarung Council members.

Following on from last year’s Great Birrarung Parkland design discussion at Deakin Edge, this relaxed boat trip brings together stories and discussion around Traditional Owners’ knowledge and how the Greater Birrarung Parkland concept can extend through the cities of Yarra and Stonnington where infrastructure dominates the river corridor.

An important and not-to-be-missed opportunity to explore the vision of a shared Greater Birrarung Parkland and listen deeply to Indigenous Knowledges when designing on Country.


Wednesday 23 March, 8.30am–10am

5. Greenline – The Big Picture

“What does success look like for Melbourne’s future Greenline urban park?” – a city-shaping project that will transform the north bank of the Yarra River – Birrarung. This ‘big picture’ question will shape the discussion and open the opportunity for you to ask questions about the impact of this large-scale and ambitious project for the future of Melbourne. 

Join OHM’s President, Stuart Harrison, at Arbory Afloat for a special presentation from the City of Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp followed by a panel discussion with a diverse range of speakers including Tim Black (BKK Architects), Jason Eade (Aboriginal Melbourne, City of Melbourne) and Charlotte Sterrett, Yarra River Keeper amongst others. Don’t forget to have your questions at the ready and be inspired to take an active part in the Q&A session as part of this free event – registrations are essential.


Wednesday 23 March, 3.30pm–5pm & 5.30pm–7pm

6. A Walk Through Time at St Kilda West Beach with the EcoCentre

The Port Phillip EcoCentre and Port Phillip Bay Keeper have come together for Open Nature to present this insightful walking tour that explores the following critical questions: How do healthy coasts contribute to healthy climates, and the ever-changing balance between land and water, built and wild spaces, past, present and future?

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore the cultural and natural history of urban coastlines, pioneer plants, urban biodiversity and community-government collaborations on this guided tour.



Thursday 24 March, 4pm–6pm

7. Transforming Fisherman’s Bend

Led by the wonderful Janet Bolitho and following in the footsteps of celebrated urbanist Jane Jacobs’ ‘Jane’s Walks’ where citizen-led observations carefully monitor and reflect upon the nature of the changing city, this guided tour will focus on Fishermans Bend and explore its history, present and unfolding future.

The tour will explore the rapidly changing nature of Fishermans Bend, its relationship to the River and Westgate Park, plans for its renewal as a bio-diverse, water sensitive precinct and major projects planned for its future – including a new campus for Melbourne University. This is a comprehensive, guided experience including part travel by public transport (bus) and a part-walking tour.


Friday 25 March, 10am–2pm

8. Design Day at Latrobe Creative Precinct

A major highlight of the Open Nature program, our Design Day at Gippsland Performing Arts Centre (GPAC) is open to everyone and is free to attend – join us for this inspirational day of talks and presentations, architect-led building tours and a fungi ‘tasting’ to close the day.

Taking place at the just-opened spaces of the architect-designed GPAC spaces, the curated day brings together a variety of entrepreneurs and thought-leaders who will explore topics ranging from ecologically responsive and creative production practices to speculative futures for solar-powered agriculture in the Latrobe Valley.

Speakers include Gippsland creatives A View From Here, craft brewers Sailors Grave (Gabrielle and Chris Moore) with Bruce Pascoe, Flooding Creek Fungi, principals from Jackson Architecture and Katsieris Origami and designer/activist Ross Harding of Finding Infinity and The New Normal.

In the true spirit of Open Nature, leave the car behind and take the train to Traralgon and make an easy 10-minute walk from the train station to GPAC. *See our handy reading and listening guide to keep you company on your journey.



Saturday 26 March, 10am–12pm

9. Westgate Park Biodiversity Tour

Discover the extraordinary story behind the park underneath the Westgate Bridget with a guided tour of the nine ecologies of Westgate Park.

Once a wasteland, the park is now a flourishing ecological and recreational wetland in the heart of the city – the largest in urban Melbourne. The tour will take in native birdlife, vegetation and the famous pink lake, and you’re also invited to join in in some guerrilla weeding – a community activation program that will help to address an urgent need for support after a long period of Covid-related lockdowns that restricted access to the park.


Sunday 27 March, 10am–12pm

10. Yarra Plastic Paddle

You may have seen this experimental kayak made of plastic waste floating on the Yarra River – Birrarung at the end of last year – as profiled in The Age newspaper last December. The Yarra Riverkeeper Association members constructed the kayak from plastic collected from the river itself to raise awareness of the devastating impact of plastic bottles and lids on our city’s river and eco-system.

This family-friendly event will explore the design of the kayak through the eyes of the creators themselves and screen a short film of its floating adventures – a great event for families with an interactive ‘making session’ welcoming all to get involved.



For the full program visit: 

Open Nature is proudly presented by Open House Melbourne for Melbourne Design Week 2022, an initiative of the Victorian Government, Creative Victoria in collaboration with the National Gallery of Victoria.

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