Total House and Carpark
Ph: Federico Passi

Site Overview

site name:
Total House and Carpark
Bogle, Banfield & Associates
date of commission:
date of completion:
170-190 Russell St, Melbourne
protection status:
– Victoria Heritage Register
– National Trust of Australia (Victoria)
– City of Melbourne Heritage Overlay Schedule
– DOCOMOMO Australia Register


The explosion of private automobile ownership in Australia after World War II hastened the local emergence of hitherto unseen building types, such as the motel and the seemingly endless catalogue of drive-in commercial ventures (cinemas, banks, bottle shops, restaurants and car washes). As architects and planners grappled with the thorny issue of accommodating booming vehicle numbers in multistory car parks, the penny inevitably dropped that such facilities should be integrated into the design of larger-scale developments. While the 1950s saw a number of bold proposals fro multistorey office buildings perched atop podium-like car parks, it was not untile 1963 that the hybrid typology come to fruition in the design of Total House at the corner of Melbourne’s Little Bourke and Russel streets.

The project represented a masterly confluence of interested parties. Commissioned by a dedicated private firm, the Savoy Car Park Company, it was to be build on leasehold land that the Melbourne City Council had specially acquired for the purpose. It was deisgned by the office of Bogle, Banfield & Associates, which then comprised a bevy of gifted young designers – including David Brunton, Kirrill Kosloff, Ron Lee and Harry Peals – under the iron hand of entrepreneurial principal of Gordon Banfield. Banfield was well-known for wheelher-dealer inner-city development projects, not to mention his previous experience in the brave new world of multistorey car park.

Conceived as seven floors of car parking crowned by a discreet four-storey office block, Total House had a necessarily trabeated nature that lent itself to the rugged and exotic expression of contemporary Japanese architecture. The car parking floors were articulated as a Jenga-like structure of huge concreat beams with horizontally slotted balustrades, evoking recent civic projects in Japan such as the Katsushika Ward Office (1960) and Iwakuni Town Hall (1962), built by Takeo Sato. The surmounting office block, strikingly expressed as a hovering glass-fronted volume with projecting frame (prompting countless comparisons to a television set) paid even more flagrant homage aping Kiyonori Kikutake’s Shimane Prefectural Art Museum (1959). (Simon Reeves / Australia Modern)