Open Nature Explores Ecologically Responsive Design Practices for Melbourne Design Week 2022

Open House Melbourne launches Open Nature – a new program of walks, talks, tours and events as part of Melbourne Design Week 2022.

Activating metropolitan Melbourne and extending to the Gippsland region, the dynamic program illuminates a growing  movement towards ecologically responsive, ‘more than human’ design practice.

From Williamstown to Traralgon, Open Nature  presents biodiversity bike rides, community-led kayak tours, eco-aware design discussions, Indigenous Knowledge insights and a  sustainable seafood workshop exploring the complex interrelations between humans and non-humans.

Offering a variety of free  and ticketed activities, the Open Nature program will run from 17–27 March.  

A river float meets participatory workshop inaugurates the ten-day program through the convergence of digital fabrication technologies and sustainable food systems. Led by Alex Goad, industrial designer and director of Reef Design Lab, and deep food  thinkers Long Prawn, Shuck Structures and Biomimicry will teach participants sustainable skills – like how to shuck their own  oysters and how to make an oyster knife from plastic waste.

The full program is driven by the ‘more than human’ design movement towards responsiveness in the face of the climate crisis. Open Nature seeks to explore and support sustainable design practices for a carbon neutral future, and engage in deep listening and learning about First Peoples’ connection to Country.

The Great Birrarung Parkland – By Boat brings together Traditional Owners and spatial designers to explore ways in which the Greater Birrarung Parkland idea can extend through the cities of Yarra and Stonnington, where infrastructure dominates the river corridor.

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

Open Nature expands on the past three years of Open House Melbourne’s much-loved Waterfront program, which highlighted  design that recognises water as a living entity to shape better outcomes for our creeks, rivers, and oceans. 

Open House Melbourne Executive Director and Chief Curator Fleur Watson says: “Open House Melbourne is proud to present  Open Nature, a series of experiential and activity-based programs focussed on ways in which we can shape a more positive future  for our cities, suburbs, and regions through ecologically sensitive design practices and a deeper understanding of our relationship  to the natural world. Working together with our valued partners and collaborators such as the NGV, Latrobe Creative Precinct, Finding Infinity’s The New Normal, the Birrarung Council and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC),  Open Nature widely offers an inclusive program that encourages participants to engage with and reflect on the importance of  ecologically aware, sustainable design for a better collective future for everyone – human and non-human.” 

Open Nature brings community and creatives together to discuss the ever-present opportunities in pursuing inclusive design  practises that place the relationship between humans and the natural environment as critical for a thriving future.


Open Nature Program Highlights


Open Nature: Shuck Structures and Biomimicry 

18 March, 12.30–2.30pm. $95, booking required. Boat Charter, commencing at Docklands travelling to Williamstown, return. A floating artist talk and workshop that looks at how design and considered eating can help support our marine ecosystems.  Participants will learn about the sustainable value of shucking and eating oysters before making their own oyster knife with a  handle made from ocean waste. Long Prawn and Alex Goad host this participatory river float.

Open Nature: Regenerating the Ecologies of Bay West

19 March, 10am–12pm. $58, booking required. Bay Trail, Williamstown’s Port to Kororoit Creek, Williamstown. A bicycle tour exploring Port Phillip Bay’s western edge, tracking upstream from Williamstown’s Port to the mangrove colony and shacks of the Kororoit Creek estuary. Shaped by basalt flows and watercourses from the north and west, this landscape is home to significant biodiversity which has clung on despite the destruction of heavy industry. 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 evaluates the urban development projects that flank it.

Open Nature: Meet the Riverkeeper Kayak Tour

19 March, 10.30am–12pm. $58, booking required. Commencing at Bellbird Picnic Area, Yarra Bend Park, Kew. The Yarra Riverkeeper gives a human voice to the river, speaking for the protection and restoration of its tributaries, from source  to mouth. A new Riverkeeper, Charlotte Sterrett was recently appointed, and this kayak tour will introduce participants to her vision  for the body of water. 

Open Nature: The Great Birrarung Parkland – By Boat

20 March, 2.30–5pm. $25, booking required. Boat Charter, commencing at Federation Wharf, return.

Following on from the Great Birrarung Parkland design discussion in 2021 at Deakin Edge, this boat trip along the Birrarung will bring together stories and discussion around Traditional Owners knowledge and how the Greater Birrarung Parkland idea can extend through the cities of Yarra and Stonnington where infrastructure dominates the river corridor. 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.

Open Nature: Latrobe Valley Design Day 

25 March, 10am–1pm. FREE, booking required. Latrobe Creative Precinct, Traralgon VIC. 

In partnership with the recently launched Latrobe Creative Precinct, Open Nature presents a one-off intensive ‘design day’ that  investigates creative ideas for the future of the Gippsland region. The day’s discussions and activities will explore ecologically  responsive and ‘more than human’ design practices, the potential of solar engineering and agriculture, as well as the power of  creative entrepreneurship in forming new opportunities in the Latrobe Valley. Through inspiring presentations, guided walks, food,  produce, film and music it will bring together local and regional entrepreneurs, designers and creatives involved in the growing  movement towards sustainable practices.


17–27 March 2022

Presented by Open House Melbourne for Melbourne Design Week 2022, an initiative of the Victorian Government, Creative Victoria in collaboration with the NGV.

Full program and tickets available here.

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