Federal Court of Australia - 450 Little Bourke Street. MELBOURNE [Walking Melbourne Building Information]
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Federal Court of Australia: 450 Little Bourke Street, MELBOURNE

Federal Court of Australia
Federal Court of Australia
Federal Court of Australia
Federal Court of Australia
Federal Court of Australia

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Building Profile

Name : Federal Court of Australia
Past Names : High Court


Address: 450 Little Bourke Street

Postcode: 3000

Construction Details

Built: 1926 - 1928
Original use: Public (Court House)
Current use: Public (Court House)

number of floors : 2

Built in the Interwar period in the Stripped Classical style

Notable features

The building was commenced in 1926 and completed in 1928. It was occupied in the January of 1928 before the building had been officially handed over and the Court commenced sitting in February 1928. The drawings were signed by John Smith Murdoch, the then Director General Works and Chief Architect (1925-29). In its simplified classical style, minimal ornament and strong emphasis on the horizontal line, this is similar to other buildings of the time designed by Murdoch, in particular Old Parliament House, Canberra (1927), the Hotel Canberra, Gorman House, Hotel Kurrajong and HMAS Cerberus. Typical of these buildings is a symmetrical facade divided into bays around a portal with vestigial Classical columns and entablature. In plan these buildings are divided into pavilions that are linked by corridors and lit with skylights. Internally the High Court Building and the Old Parliament House building are similar with coffered ceilings, timber panelling using Australian timbers and attention to detailing with decorative grills to vents.


The building was built for the High Court but also accommodated other Federal judicial bodies such as the Arbitration Court. Originally a single storey building the High Court was extended in 1935 by H J Mackennal, chief architect for the Victorian Public Works Department, with the addition of an upper storey. The extensions were undertaken to house the High Court and minor Federal judicial bodies such as the Patents Office, the Office of the Receiver under the Federal Bankruptcy Act and the Melbourne offices of he Federal Crown Solicitor. the extension was in the same materials and style and maintained the rhythm of the windows and parapet. It attempted to keep the original proportions, however the strong horizontal emphasis and balance of the building parts into separate pavilions expressed on the facade, was diminished with this extension. Directly developed from the English Imperial style of Sir Edwin Lutyens, this inter-war stripped Classical style became the favoured Commonwealth style, which is evident in the architecture of Canberra. Many landmark cases were heard by the High Court in this building during the years from 1928 until1980.

Architect: John Smith Murdoch

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