Total House

Update 30 September 2015 – Total House development proposal withdrawn

We have been able to confirm this development will no longer be proceeding in its original form. We await news as to whether the developer is planning on submitting a further proposal that actually respects the site’s heritage.

See this Age article

and this blog post

for further information.

Update 9th August 2014 – Owners indicate they will challenge Heritage Victoria’s decision to heritage list Total House.

The owners of Total House have indicated they will challenge the heritage listing of the building as they seek permission to demolish it to replace it with a 70-storey hotel and apartment tower.

Update 4th May 2014 – Total House added to Heritage Register

After the hearing in February this year the Heritage Council has decided to add Total House to the Victorian Heritage Register. Total House is regarded as of cultural heritage significance for the state of Victoria. The committee stated in their report that they were ‘satisfied that Total House is a notable, highly intact, distinctive and early example of Brutalist architecture in Victoria.’ The committee also recognised that Total House displays aspects of Japanese post-war architectural style and indicates the impact that Japanese design had on Australian architecture and design at this time.

You can read the full report from the Heritage Council here or download the document


The inclusion of Total House on the Heritage Register is a victory not just for the building itself, but for the recognition of post-war architecture in Melbourne. Many other significant post-war buildings remain without any protection – including the buildings denied protection last year in the C186 amendment.

Update February 2014 – Total House hearing at Heritage Victoria

March 2013 – MHA nominates Total House for heritage protection

The Total Carpark on Russell Street, corner of Little Bourke Street, was designed by Bogle Banfield Associates, and completed in 1965. It has long been regarded as an architectural landmark, but is now under threat.

It has been proposed for heritage listing since the early 1980s, but this has never eventuated. A developer purchased an option on the site last year, proposing a 60-storey tower despite its significance, and the site having a 60m height limit (about 15 storeys). Melbourne Heritage Action has now taken the initiative and invested considerable energies in preparing a nomination to Heritage Victoria, the State’s premier heritage body.

The Carpark is significant as the first expression of ‘Brutalist’ architecture in Victoria, through the use of bold forms and expressed unpainted concrete structure, influenced by Japanese avant-garde architecture of the late 1950s/early 1960s. The strong cantilevered horizontals of the carpark decks are topped by a flaoting TV-like box of offices on cantilevered supports introduced bold new modern forms into what was still largely a Victorian low rise city-scape. Unlike later sculptural bare concrete examples of Brutalist design, there are plenty of refined details.

It is also important as one a rush of carparks built between 1955 and 1966 in response to the huge rise in car use and consequent city congestion. This is one of a number that were developed by the City of Melbourne to meet this demand at the fringes of the shopping area, while others were developed privately – and Bogle Banfield had a hand in most, designing some, and owning, designing and developing others.

There was also a nightclub in the basement, the first of its type in the city – it opened as the Lido in 1965, providing dinner and a ‘Paris -type’ show, complete with fathers, high kicks and scanty costumes, something Melbourne hadn’t seen before. The space is now occupied by Billboard, an important live music venue.

A short film by Jacques Sheard about Total House.

Media Coverage

August 2014

The Age on the challenge of the heritage listing.

Channel 9 news coverage of the challenge to the heritage listing

May 2014

The Age has a story about Total House nomination here (though we don’t agree with the headline ‘Ugly Carpark added to heritage register!’)

March 2014

Age story about the battle to protect Melbourne’s mid-century architecture, including Total House.

March 2013

See the story in The Age here Drive to Save Landmark Carpark

Link to interview with Philip Goad on 3AW

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