Following the hearing before the Registrations Committee of the Heritage Council in February 2014, the Heritage Council has determined to add Total House to the Victorian Heritage Register. This is an excellent result in the recently troubled preservation of Melbourne’s significant post-war modernist architecture. A permit for the proposed demolition will now be required from Heritage Victoria.
In his expert evidence on behalf of the National Trust, Architectural Historian Simon Reeves submitted that from the late 1950s Japanese influence could be seen in many aspects of Australian culture including architectural design and it was at this time that Japan became a destination for Australian architects travelling overseas. Mr Reeves argued that the influence of Japanese architecture on the design of Total House is well established. He stated that this influence can be seen in the design of the concrete balustrading and the use of the multi-storey carpark and elevated office block to express two primary functions as ‘separate volumes’. Furthermore he is of the view that Total House is the largest and a notably early example of a building ‘demonstrating the pervasive influence of contemporary Japanese architecture’. Mr Reeves concluded that Total House demonstrates characteristics of the Brutalist class of buildings and is ‘a significant benchmark in the early development of the style in Victoria’.
The Registrations Committee stated that it “is of the view that Total House demonstrates the characteristics of this movement and this is evident in the fabric of the building. On the basis of the information presented to it, the Committee is satisfied that Total House is a notable, highly intact, distinctive and early example of Brutalist architecture in Victoria.”