Brutal decision awaits for “significant” Carlton car park

Brutal decision awaits for “significant” Carlton car park
Brendan Rees

Public opinion continues to be divided over whether a car park in Carlton, known for its 1970s Brutalist architecture, should be heritage listed.

Cardigan House car park, on the corner of Grattan and Cardigan streets, is included in the City of Melbourne’s Carlton Heritage Review due to its aesthetic significance, which was first considered by the Future Melbourne Committee on November 16, 2021.

Brutalist influences are associated with the bold use of off-form concrete, encapsulating the similarly rugged articulation of face brickwork (in a range of colours), steel framing, tinted glazing, and exposed services.

However, some residents are against the car park being heritage protected, including the Carlton Residents’ Association, which made a submission stating, “it is not valued by the community”, encouraged car pollution, and would restrict future development of more sustainable land uses, while also noting it had a “terrible street interface”.

However, David Wagner, president of the Victorian chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, said it was “entirely appropriate” to protect the car park.

“While car parks are commonly made of fabricated concrete, this one has actually been sculptured and has been designed with a sort of textured façade,” he said.

“The architects were Mockridge, Stahle and Mitchell, who did quite a few public buildings including churches, and so they understood the importance of detailing buildings well.”

“It’s a lovely building. You see the sort of tensile tautness across it, looking at the facade, but also the trees work beautifully against it too.”

“We don’t have a vast number of Brutalist buildings in the city … and I think for all of those reasons, it’s important to, to retain and to look after.”

Mr Wagner added the building was serving a “very useful function of being a car park”.

 

It’s adjacent to the university, it’s adjacent to the hospital, and it’s adjacent to the local street commercial precinct. So, there is a demand for car parking there – performing a very useful function.

 

Carlton resident Katie Roberts-Hull, who made a submission to the panel, said, “We have far too many heritage protections in Carlton, and this carpark is one of the worst examples of the heritage problem”.

“Heritage protections would severely limit what can be done with the building, and I think it would be terrible if this meant we have to have a huge carpark at that site forever.”

“I love Carlton for its walkability, parks, cafes, and shops. We should allow many more people to live in this suburb, and I believe what I love about Carlton would only improve if we allowed more change.”

The Carlton Heritage Review, which recommended 24 places including the car park be protected by heritage overlay, has been publicly exhibited and considered by an independent planning panel, with the City of Melbourne currently considering the panel’s findings.

“The review is scheduled to return to the Future Melbourne Committee for further discussion in 2023. If adopted, it will be sent to the Minister for Planning for final approval,” the council said. •

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