Open House Melbourne

Open House Melbourne

Visitors walk through the institute's galleria

Welcome to our virtual tour!

We're participating in the virtual Open House Melbourne 2021 program.

Join us on our Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories on Saturday 24 July as we share our favourite images and fun facts about the buildings, and take you on a virtual behind-the-scenes tour of WEHI.


Jump to a section:

About us

Laboratory design

About the building

Fun facts

360 interactive lab tour

The Illuminarium


Augmented reality


Fighting COVID-19

Archival interviews

The National Drug Discovery Centre

About us

WEHI is where the world’s brightest minds collaborate and innovate to make discoveries that will help us to live healthier for longer.

Our medical researchers have been serving the community for more than 100 years, making transformative discoveries in cancers, infectious and immune diseases, developmental disorders and healthy ageing. 

WEHI brings together diverse and creative people with different experience and expertise to solve some of the world’s most complex health problems. With partners across science, health, government, industry and philanthropy, we are committed to long-term discovery, collaboration and translation. 

At WEHI, we are brighter together. 


You may have noticed that WEHI has a new look!

WEHI logoA new name and new brand, launching a bright new era at WEHI where collaboration, long-term discovery and a supportive culture are at the heart of what makes WEHI brighter together.

The new WEHI logo shows beams of light converging to form a point of brightest illumination, representing WEHI as a place where the world’s brightest minds come together and collaborate. It is a modern take on our historic motto Fiat Lux – let there be light.

The ‘I’ in WEHI’s logo has an upward inflection making it taller than the other letters. The ‘I’ represents optimism, hope and looking up.

The shield retains the blue and green of the previous logo and adds yellow as a new colour.


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About the building 

WEHI has had three headquarters since its inception:

  • 1916 - 1944: Melbourne Hospital’s old Lonsdale Street site with a single lab shared with CSL. This site is now home to the QV shopping precinct.
  • 1944 - 1985: The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville
  • 1985 onwards: Current Parkville site next to The Royal Melbourne Hospital. In 2012 the original building, WEHI 1, was remodelled and a second building, WEHI 2, was added to meet the growing demands.


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360 interactive lab tour

Go beyond the scenes with a 360-interactive tour of the Tye-Din Lab within WEHI 2.


The Tye-Din lab’s research focus is on coeliac disease, which is an immune illness caused by gluten, a food protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. WEHI researchers are investigating immune and genetic factors making gluten toxic for people with coeliac disease. This is assisting the development of new diagnostic approaches and novel treatments.


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The WEHI 1 building, designed by Daryl Jackson and opened in 1985, was a colourful example of Jackson’s signature style, wrapped in external panels with cream and red highlights and boasting circular, off-white concrete columns, round windows, glass tile walls and terracotta-hued lattice sunscreens. Curved, pale-blue service shafts and external stair shafts completed this integrated approach. 



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In 2012 WEHI unveiled its $185 million redeveloped research facility in Parkville. The expansion doubled our research capacity, with seven levels of new laboratories and scientific support facilities.

Denton Corker Marshal and laboratory design specialists SKM-S2F worked in partnership to design the new building and renovate the old building, combining elegant architecture with innovative technology. 

The architects’ challenge was to sensitively match the Jackson design, which hails from a unique architectural era, while stamping a fresh presence on the narrow site that could only be expanded westwards.

The WEHI 1 building was absorbed into the new extension by being wrapped in external cladding with abstract DNA patterning, a unique visual branding that integrates old and new.

The result is a world-class facility capable of attracting, housing and inspiring the brightest scientific and professional talent. 

Our Parkville campus consists of seven floors of laboratory, scientific support services and office space including:

  • The Centre for Dynamic Imaging, an advanced microscopy facility for generating detailed and real-time views of biological systems 
  • The National Drug Discovery Centre for accelerating the identification of new medicines 
  • The Clinical Translation Centre to link clinicians and laboratory research 
  • A 30-metre animation wall created by biomedical animator Dr Drew Berry
  • A high-containment insectary for studying malaria infection
  • Advanced cell and tissue imaging and flow cytometry centres

WEHI's culture of collaboration and sharing information to make new discoveries has been incorporated into the building design, with laboratories enclosed in glass walls, visible from office areas and public lifts. A large open tea room, a 300-seat auditorium, casual lounge areas and open meeting spaces dotted around the building encourage informal meetings and discussions.

An immersive galleria connects the old and new buildings and invites visitors into the heart of the Institute.

Along one wall, a timeline describes significant discoveries and people from our 106-year history. On the opposite wall is a 30-metre long scientific animation created by Emmy Award-winning and BAFTA-winning biomedical animator Dr Drew Berry that captures the imagination and puts medical research at the forefront of a visitor’s mind.


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Building development archival interviews

Delve into the 2012 redevelopment project, with insights and interviews from staff, students, architects and engineers.

Challenges, collaboration and achievements


Institute redevelopment: before, during and after in pictures


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Laboratory design

Designed by laboratory design specialists SKM-S2F, our labs are filled with natural light and decorated in a calm, composed green-and-white colour scheme. In contrast to the ‘claustrophobic’ model of lab design, these labs are zoned within large glass walls alongside two tiers of desks, which are set aside for postgraduate research students. 

The design is innovative for a medical research institute. Glass panelling allows natural light to enter, while creating a connection between wet labs and dry lab office areas.

The lab spaces in WEHI 2 are reproduced across the seven floors, with office space on the north side of the building to capture natural sunlight and heat, while light-sensitive spaces such as tissue culture rooms are located on the south side of the building.

Engineering and technical features include:

  • Lower air pressure inside labs to keep airborne particles inside when the door is opened
  • Air cycling within the lab draws air and potential particles through vents above benches, away from researchers
  • There are no legs on island benches to delineate territory
  • All services such as air and electricity are provided overhead
  • Shelving is suspended from the ceiling to maximise desk space


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Fun facts 

  • The total floor space of WEHI's Parkville campus exceeds 32,000m2 – about 1.5 times the size of the MCG!
  • 55 per cent of the floor space is dedicated to laboratory and research areas. 
  • More than 1,100 staff and students share one large tea room which has spectacular views over Parkville and Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
  • WEHI has three campuses - Parkville, Bundoora and Kew.


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The Illuminarium – creating a beacon of science

The original Illuminarium was created as a temporary display for our 2015 centenary celebrations. In 2021 WEHI unveiled our Illuminarium 2.0 with a significant technology and design upgrade.

Spanning the six-storey facade of our Parkville building, the revolving LED-light installation displays images and visual data from the frontier of medical research.

The Illuminarium reveals to the outside world, what is being discovered inside WEHI. It acts as a beacon, a lighthouse of scientific discovery shining a light on the unknown and embodying WEHI’s motto of “Brighter Together”.

The Illuminarium 2.0 is twice as bright as its predecessor while using a third less electricity. And, for the first time, the Illuminarium’s spectacular images can be viewed both day and night.

“The research data generated at WEHI is extraordinarily beautiful, and what I want to do with the Illuminarium is create a spectacular presentation of the science.” Dr Drew Berry, Biomedical Animator, WEHI.TV




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Augmented reality

Augmented reality is an interactive experience adding layers of digital information such as videos, graphics and sound to our view of the real world.

Our 2020 Annual Report features images that come to life with augmented reality.

You can download the WEHI AR app to your smartphone and access the 2020 Annual Report to scan the augmented reality content on the cover and throughout the report.

The front cover image is of antibodies binding the SARS-CoV-2 virus and was created by Dr Drew Berry.



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Fighting COVID-19 together

It may not have been business as usual in the past year, but the 850+ researchers at WEHI have continued working on many major health challenges, including contributing to COVID-19 research. 

As the global community tackles the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working with our collaborators on developing diagnostics and finding new drugs and treatments. Our shared goal is to improve healthcare in response
 to COVID-19, as well as future potential coronavirus outbreaks.

By leveraging WEHI’s substantial knowledge of infections, immunology, drug discovery and access to state-of-the-art technologies, WEHI is collaboratively driving research forward.

Our COVID-19 projects include:

  • COVID PROFILE: a study of immunity to COVID-19
  • A rapid diagnostic tool for COVID-19 called c-FIND
  • Searching for new medicines to treat and prevent COVID-19
  • Developing 'biologics' medicines for coronavirus infections
  • Identifying risk factors for developing serious COVID-19 complications
  • Collaborating in Victoria’s wastewater testing program 

Learn more about our COVID-19 research


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The National Drug Discovery Centre

The National Drug Discovery Centre (NDDC) is the first of its kind in Australia, providing researchers with access to specialist high-throughput screening, which is one of the first steps in translating biological discoveries into new medicines.

The advanced robotic high-throughput screening enables the rapid analysis of hundreds of thousands of test compounds, dramatically reducing the time it takes to bring new medicines to patients.

On the same day in 2020 that the NDDC was officially opened, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Throughout 2020 the NDDC was used to test more than 400,000 compounds to find starting points for new drugs specifically aimed at blocking one of the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s key enzymes.

Take a look behind the scenes of the National Drug Discovery Centre:


Screening for medicines to help with COVID-19 (May 2020)

Professor Marc Pellegrini gives us a sneak peek inside the National Drug Discovery Centre where robotic platforms are screening for chemicals to help with the development of medicines for COVID-19 and other coronaviruses.


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Stay connected with WEHI

Thank you for joining us for Open House Melbourne 2021.

Once we resume our Discovery Tour program, we look forward to welcoming you to visit our state-of-the-art facilities in person. Until then we would love to keep connected.


We encourage everyone to practice physical distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Any photos and video we post of people closer together than 1.5m were taken before the COVID-19 guidelines came into effect.

Looking for more interesting buildings to explore? Visit the Open House Melbourne website for inspiration. 


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Research team in a lab

Want to hear about our latest discoveries? Subscribe to our supporter newsletter, Illuminate

Researcher facing news media crews

Catch up on our latest research discoveries and announcements.

Microscopy image of liver cells

An annual exhibition showcasing the beautiful and bizarre images created and captured by WEHI scientists.

Photo of a mother with her child

At WEHI, the world’s brightest minds collaborate and innovate to make discoveries so we can all live healthier for longer.

Visualisation of SARS-CoV-2

Our researchers are working towards better approaches to diagnose, treat and prevent the spread of coronaviruses, both to address the current COVID-19 global outbreak as well as in preparedness for likely future coronaviral disease outbreaks.