Total House

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Total House
Total House is located in Victoria
Total House
Location of Total House in Victoria
Total House is located in Australia
Total House
Total House (Australia)
Location170-190 Russell Street, Melbourne, Australia
Coordinates37°48′43″S 144°58′06″E / 37.8120°S 144.9682°E / -37.8120; 144.9682Coordinates: 37°48′43″S 144°58′06″E / 37.8120°S 144.9682°E / -37.8120; 144.9682
Design period1960s
Built forSavoy Car Park Company
ArchitectBogle & Banfield Associates
Architectural style(s)Brutalist
Official nameTotal House
Designated29 May 2014
Reference no.H2329

Total House is a heritage-listed Brutalist commercial building at 170-190 Russell Street, Melbourne, Australia. It consists of retail premises at street level, a seven-level car park, four storeys of offices atop the car park, and a basement theatre. It was listed on the Victorian Heritage Register on 29 May 2014 on the basis that it was "a landmark of post-World War II modernist design of the earliest and best expressions of Brutalist architecture in Victoria".[1]


It was designed c. 1963 by Bogle & Banfield Associates, a partnership of architects Alan Bogle and Gordon Banfield, for the Savoy Car Park Company, a company controlled by Banfield, which had been established to develop the site, and built in 1964-65. The building's name stems from the original anchor tenant, Total Oil Products P/L (Australia), a subsidiary of French oil company CFP, whose offices were based in the building from 1966 until the 1970s.[1] In 1991, it sold for $21 million, reputedly the largest Melbourne CBD property sale that year, with KPMG among the building's office tenants at that time.[2]

Demolition bid and heritage listing[edit]

Total House was at risk of demolition in 2014 after developer AXF Group purchased the site and sought approval to replace it with a 70-storey hotel tower. However, the building's successful heritage listing, following its nomination by heritage group Melbourne Heritage Action, saw the withdrawal of the proposal. The demolition threat sparked public debate about whether 1960s Brutalist architecture should receive heritage protection, amidst threats to a number of prominent Melbourne buildings of that era.[3][4][5]

Basement entertainment venues[edit]

The basement has housed a succession of entertainment venues over the decades. It was first envisaged as a cinema with the capacity to stage live theatre, with the possibility of being turned into a nightclub if liquor legislation changed.[6]

From 1965, it housed the Lido Cabaret, described as "the first of its kind in Victoria", "providing dinner and a ‘Paris-type’ show, complete with feathers, high kicks and scanty costumes".[1][5]

After a period as a Spanish-themed nightclub, from the mid-1970s the basement housed the 600-seat Total Theatre, featuring theatre productions including the Australian premiere of Guys & Dolls and the controversial revue Let My People Come. The theatre was operated by Banfield, who used the car park to subsidise the theatre.[7][8][9][10]

Since 1980, the basement has housed a nightclub and live music venue, initially known as Billboard until 2014, and then after a rebrand as 170 Russell, the building's street address.[11]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Total House". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Council Victoria. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Talbot Diamond's sale CBD site brings $21m". The Australian Jewish News. Vol. 57, no. 45. Victoria, Australia. 9 August 1991. p. 12 (Business & Property). Retrieved 30 July 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ Lillebuen, Steve (9 August 2014). "'Ugly' car park in heritage legal fight". The Age. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  4. ^ Dow, Aisha (2 May 2014). ""Ugly" car park is added to heritage register". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Total House". Melbourne Heritage Action. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Films and plays together in 1964". The Age. 2 May 1963. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  7. ^ "Total Theatre". Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Show Business – A developer who wants to be his own client", The Bulletin, Sydney: John Haynes and J.F. Archibald, 96 (4922), 7 September 1974, ISSN 0007-4039, nla.obj-1624380534, retrieved 31 October 2020 – via Trove
  9. ^ "Lido Cabaret 172 Russell Street, Melbourne, VIC - Later to become the Total Theatre". Cinema Treasures. Peter Andrew Barrett Collection. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  10. ^ Bollen, Jonathan (29 May 2011). "The Lido, Melbourne". Jonathan Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Two Major Melbourne Live Music Venues Join Forces, Announce Rebrand". Tone Deaf. Al Newstead. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2021.