Duncan House | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Duncan House

Item details

Name of item: Duncan House
Other name/s: Duncan House Number 2
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Location: Lat: -33.8046716623 Long: 151.2194639340
Primary address: 8 The Barbette, Castlecrag, NSW 2068
Parish: Willoughby
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Willoughby
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT194A DP346940
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
8 The BarbetteCastlecragWilloughbyWilloughbyCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
 Private15 Mar 99

Statement of significance:

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE
The Duncan House at Number 8 The Barbette, Castlecrag, is historically significant as a fine example of the work of Walter Burley Griffin, an internationally significant architect. It is historically important as one of the original houses in the Castlecrag area, which were all built in the 1920s-1930s. It is rare as one of thirteen surviving examples. It is representative of the planning concepts by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin who initiated the Castlecrag community, where they planned houses to be built of local sandstone and locally made concrete resembling the stone, in sympathy with natural topographical forms and Australian flora.

AESTHETIC AND TECHNICAL SIGNIFICANCE
The house has aesthetic and technical significance, embodying the materials and planning vision of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. The house is a diminutive yet perfectly proportioned example of W B Griffin's work, using his patented knitlock concrete, ribbed and gracefully crenellated, yet grounded in the earth through the use of heavy rusticated protruding stone corner piers. The unique roofing and flooring systems also sat the house closer to ground level than more commonly elevated houses. The house is technically unusual and significant, being the last Griffin-designed house to be built in Castlecrag, and exhibiting a form of knitlock benefitting from the introduction of galvanising for its steel reinforcing.

The Duncan House is aesthetically significant for blending with its setting, situated below a slope and backing onto a reserve. The chevron motif french doors open to the garden in close proximity, modeling methods of home building several decades ahead of later popular trends .

SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE
The house has social significance for being associated with the Griffins who also lived in the Castlecrag community, and for being the home for over 50 years of Mr Frank Duncan. Duncan and his wife Anice commissioned the house and were associates of the Griffins.They were active community members valued by the community (present and past).

When Mr Duncan planned to move away from the house in 1988, he indirectly inspired the formation of the Walter Burley Griffin Society. The house had significance with many original finishes and forms intact and the local community wished to preserve it as a house museum. They were unsuccessful but the house has social significance for having inspired the work of the Society who have subsequently contributed to the appreciation and understanding of the Griffins' vision and importance.
Date significance updated: 06 Oct 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Walter Burley Griffin
Physical description: SETTING
The original house was set at the back of the block, adjoining a reserve. According to the Walter Burley Griffin Society, and thesis extracts from Andre Perl, the Duncan house forms part of a group of three Griffin-designed houses at The Barbette. The other two are the Wilson and Creswick houses, No. 2 and No. 4 (Heritage Office File). The three were designed with staggered settings to allow views of Middle Harbour. The Duncan House had access to the roof from the garden and views were enjoyed from there during Mr Duncan's residency until 1989.

MATERIALS
The house is single storey, built of stone blocks and 'knitlock' concrete blocks. The knitlock is reinforced with galvanised iron/steel, the galvanising being a late development in knitlock reinforcing (Andre Perl thesis extracts, Heritage Office File). Burley Griffin's design was a small house with a square plan. Corner piers of rock faced sandstone rubble, squared and coursed, contrast with recessed walls of smooth dressed concrete blocks of a sandstone-gold colour (finished with grains of sandstone). The roof is flat with no eaves, and the window openings are rectangular with painted timber framing. Paired casement windows with large panes of rhomboid shaped glass, and french doors with panes of the same design open to the garden. Closeness to the garden and nature were integral elements of the house design, and Walter Burley Griffin himself contributed specimens of Australian flora for planting throughout Castlecrag (Birrell 1964:137).

STYLE
The knitlock wall sections have curved ribbing similar to vertical fins, which are accented by ribbed concave crenellations. The crenellated parapet elements rise gracefully and monumentally above the roofline, bringing a castle or church-like suggestion to the exterior through gothic style elements. The 70 degree angled window pane settings create chevron patterns on the french doors and windows, adding further decorative interest to the facade, and reminiscent of a pointed arch motif (another gothic style marker). Chevron motifs and vertical fins are also characteristic of the Inter War Art Deco style, but Burley Griffin's use of rusticated stone and his philosophy of creating a building in harmony with the landscape resulted in a fusion of grace with earthy ambience at the Duncan House.

INTERIOR
The interior has timber floors which are laid on a prepared subloor surface to Griffin's specification. Interior walls are unlined rock-faced stone at the corners to original square building, and smoother concrete knitlock blocks in the remaining walls. Ceilings are plaster lined and were originally painted white. According to James Birrell's book, the small scale of the Duncan House achieved a large scale interior through the use of folding doors, which could join smaller rooms into a larger living area (1964:141). In 1989 the building presented with a square bedroom extension added to the rear of the house, sympathetically constructed in 1943 from unpainted blocks of stone with painted timber window frames.

A simple fireplace was situated in the corner of the living area. It utilised the rock faced stone as a hearth wall, and had a rough stone mantel.The original bathroom had green fittings and the kitchen sink unit was zinc. These were in situ in 1989 but subsequently were mentioned on an approved development application, scheduled to be replaced in 1993 (Heritage Office file).

DETERIORATION
The flat roof was made from poured concrete. Water drained into internal downpipes. These leaked internally, and water also damaged the crenellations and elements of the exterior. Repairs were necessary in the original house and old extension due to leaks having caused water damage to stone, concrete and timber. The current windows are replacements to the same design as the originals (Heritage Office file).

RECENT WORKS
The non-Griffin designed garage and loggia built post World War II from rock faced stone blocks, which were extant at the front or street-side of the Duncan house in 1989, were built close to the excavated earth of the slope. The additions to the house from circa 1993 have been built in the place of the old garage and loggia.

The extension brings the house forward toward the street, and the carport fronts onto the street. The extension and carport have been designed with reference to the original house, using a flat roof, protruding block corners, smooth walls recessed from the block-like corner piers, and chevron motif french doors. The walls are rendered and painted a sandstone colour.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
At date of listing, the house's walls were stained with dark patches. Some roofline crenellations were missing and mortar loss from joints was evident.Timber frames were rotting, and the roof was leaking. Corrosion to the reinforcing bars of the roof slab was diagnosed. Remedial works have ameliorated some of these problems.
Date condition updated:06 Oct 06
Modifications and dates: 1934 - House built.
1943 - Bedroom extension added, designed by architect Eva Buhrich.
?- Loggia and garage added.
Ca.1990 - Door and window timber of original house replaced to original design.
1993 - Planning permission given for demolition of loggia and garage, new extensions to replace them. Leaks remedied.
Current use: Residence
Former use: Aboriginal land, timber-getting, wildflower picking, residence

History

Historical notes: Walter Burley Griffin (1876-1937)
Walter Burley Griffin was born near Chicago and trained at Nathan Ricker's School of Architecture at the University of Illinios, graduating in 1899. From 1901-1906, he worked as an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright at Oak Park. Griffin started his own practice in 1906 and within a few years established his reputation as an architect of the Prairie School. In 1911, Griffin married Marion Mahony, who had graduated in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked as Wright's head designer (Jahn, 1997, p. 221).

Inspired by the designs by Frederick Law Olmsted (often called the founder of American landscape architecture) of New York's Central Park and his 'green necklace' of parks in Boston, landscape design was the career Walter Burley Griffin would have pursued had the opportunity offered. He had approached Chicago landscape gardener Ossian Cole Simonds for career advice before entering the University of Illinois in 1895. Apparently unsatisfied with the lack of relevant curriculum, Simonds urged him to pursue architecture and study landscape gardening on his own, as he himself had done. Griffin took what classes he could and, like Simonds and landscape gardener Jens Jensen, shared an approach to landscape design through architecture, an interest in civic design, urbanism and planning.

In 1902 there were only six 'landscape gardeners' (and no landscape architects) listed in the Lakeside Annual Directory of the City of Chicago (Chicago Directory, Chicago, 1902 pp 24, 35, 47). In 1912 only two landscape architects and 13 landscape gardeners were listed (ibid, 1912, pp.1552 & 1693).

Griffin's practice as a landscape architect was first featured in a public text in Wilhelm Miller's The Prairie Spirit in Landscape Gardening (1915), which included Griffin as an exponent (along with Jensen, Simonds and architect Frank Lloyd Wright) of his proposed American regional 'Prairie' style. Simonds, Griffin and Miller had all attended the first national meeting of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 1913 in Chicago.

By 1914 Griffin and his architect wife Marion Mahony had moved to Australia after winning the 1912 international design competition for the Federal Capital, Canberra with a scheme based on its topography, a distinctly non-prairie valley landscape of undulating hills. (Stuart Read, in http://www.griffinsociety.org.au/lives and works/landscape_architecture cited 21 November 2008). This was a project they had worked on together (Jahn, 1997, p.221).

By 1919, there were problems with the Canberra project and Griffin resigned his position as Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction. He then formed the Greater Sydney Development Association to purchase 263 hectares in Middle Harbour, which became known as Castlecrag. He devoted the next fifteen years to developing and promoting the area, while maintaining an architectural practice (Jahn, 1997, p. 221)

Griffin believed dwellings should play a subordinate role in the scheme of nature. His houses were small and intimate. He aimed toward the most natural use of land and the selection of indigenous plants. He also developed an economical construction system of pre-cast interlocking structural tiles, which he called 'Knitlock', and used it widely, as well as stone, in the houses of Castlecrag. In the early 1930s, Griffin built incinerators for the destruction of household garbage in various cities and suburbs in the eastern states of Australia. They provided a canvas for experimentation with form and texture for the architect, but sadly few have survived (Jahn, 1997, p. 221).
Two Griffin incinerators survive in suburban Sydney: the Glebe Municipal Incinerator (City of Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2000 local heritage item); and the Willoughby Incinerator (State Heritage Register (SHR) listing #84).

Griffin's work took him to India in 1935 and he died there two years later of peritonitis (Jahn, 1997, p. 221).

Griffin's contribution to the development of the Wrightian / Prairie School style internationally has begun to receive attention from architectural historians in recent years. It is now increasingly acknowledged that Griffin contributed a number of fresh concepts to the Prairie School, most noticeably: his attention to vertical space (a development leading directly to the ubiquitous split-level style post-war houses); 'open plan' living and dining areas dominated by a large central fireplace; and the extensive domestic use of reinforced concrete. (Kirk, Andrew, 'Prairie School Connection', , cited 3rd December 2007)

Griffin is also internationally renowned for his work as a landscape architect, especially the innovative town planning design of Canberra and Castlecrag, Griffith and Leeton.

Griffin's design approaches to landscape and architecture informed one another. Landscape itself, for example, crucially served as a basis for architecture - a conviction first made explicit in the Canberra publicity, Griffin noting (in Chicago) that: '...a building should ideally be "the logical outgrowth of the environment in which [it is] located".' In Australia, he hoped to 'evolve an indigenous type, one similarly derived from and adapted to local climate, climate and topography.' In Australia the scale and number of his landscape commissions grew considerably, including a number of town plans. Griffin signed many of his drawings with the term 'landscape architect'. (Stuart Read, in http://www.griffinsociety.org.au/lives and works/landscape_architecture cited 21 November 2008).

WALTER BURLEY GRIFFIN AND MARION MAHONY GRIFFIN - BACKGROUND AND VISION
Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin came to Sydney in 1920 following his seven years overseeing the building of the nation's Federal Capital at Canberra, during which time they lived primarily in Melbourne. They had come to Australia after he won the capital design competition of 1912, this being a project they had worked on together. In the USA the Griffins had both worked for Frank Lloyd Wright. Marion was known for her drawings and interiors while Walter had become a respected practitioner of the organic architecture later known as the Prairie School (Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006).

For the north shore of Sydney Harbour the Griffins envisaged a communal, ideal community without fences, without steeply pitched red roofs, and without the grid pattern which dominated the landscape in most of Sydney's suburbs. Mahony and Burley Griffin were visionaries and followed philosophical-spiritual movements such as Theosophy and Anthroposophy (Australian Dictionary of Biography). With a group of people, they formed the Greater Sydney Development Association (GSDA).

In 1921 this group (GSDA) purchased 263 hectares (650 acres) of undeveloped land along the waterfront of present day Castlecrag, Castle Cove and Middle Cove (Walter Burley Griffin Society 2006). Here the Griffins could design their community with curving roads following the sandstone topography. Griffin had extensive experience at town planning, having designed estates and developed suburban areas in the United States as well as plans for other Australian towns.

They names the roads of the Castlecrag subdivision after parts of castles. Scottish castle themes in the area were already evoked in the Gothic stone bridge, built 1892, between the suburbs of Cammeray and Northbridge, and at the previously named 'Edinburgh Rock' on the Castlecrag peninsula.

INDIGENOUS BACKGROUND
The indigenous people of the area were Kurinngai or Gurinngai speaking groups, probably affiliated with the nearby Cammeraigal community or the Gorualgal settlement at Fig-Tree Point close to Middle Harbour (Barani Indigenous History 2006). Kurinngai groups lived for thousands of years successfully utilising and managing the area's rich resources of fish, mammals, birds and vegetable products. Kurinngai communities suffered from colonial diseases such as smallpox, and drastically lost population after the arrival of Anglo-Europeans in 1788. Reminders of the Kurinngai's original occupation are evident in the landscape around Middle Harbour: middens, scarred trees, initiation sites, and especially dramatic rock carvings.

The government took over traditional Aboriginal land and eventually sold it as land grants. Some Kurinngai survivors may have integrated with colonial society. Governor Macquarie established "Bungaree's Farm" at Middle Head not far from Castlecrag to introduce indigenous people to European farming. Up until 1879 an Aboriginal group was living at the west side of Circular Quay, but at that time the people were relocated to La Perouse.

CASTLECRAG BUILDING
The north shore of the Harbour was more lightly populated by settlers than the Sydney side. It was unsuitable for grazing, and the rocky terrain around Middle Harbour probably was deemed difficult to build on.

The Griffins' plans included retaining natural landforms and Australian bush plants, and planting additional native flora. Roofs were to be low, and views of the harbour maximised from all areas. Communal walkways and reserves were included, and community activities such as dance classes, concerts and neighbourhood meetings were encouraged. The Griffins lived in Castlecrag from 1924 to 1936. Designs within the estate had to have GSDA approval and Walter Burley Griffin designed the majority of them. Banks would not lend for his designs which made construction of the dream community difficult, and less than two dozen houses out of potentially several hundred were realised in the planned form (Birrell 1964). Apparently only thirteen houses remain (year 2006) (Walter Burley Griffin Society).

The design of the houses emphasised use of stone and sand-coloured concrete, mostly low to the ground, mimicking and complementing natural earth forms. Griffin patented a material called knitlock concrete which is used in the Duncan House. It was manufactured locally, in moulded sections which join together in a kind of jigsaw fitting. Apparently the Duncan House, being the last Griffin designed house in Castlecrag to be built, benefitted from a later advancement of knitlock technology which included the galvanising process (zinc coating) in its iron-steel reinforcement. This technology contributed to its long-term success compared to some of the other houses which were built in the Castlecrag Estate between 1922 and 1934 (Heritage Office file).

During his time at Castlecrag Griffin was known for his design of many municipal incinerator buildings, executed with grand and monumental flourishes. Following 1935, Walter and Marion moved to India where he designed and built several buildings. He died there in 1937. Marion returned briefly to Castlecrag then to the United States (Australian Dictionary of Biography).

THE DUNCAN HOUSE PLAN
The Duncan House was built for Mr and Mrs Frank and Anice Duncan who had lived in other Griffin designed houses. Initially they purchased Lot 190 and commissioned a design for a split level stone house. The cost looked too high so they exchanged the lot for Lot 194 and the present house was built (Walter Burley Griffin Society News Oct.1994). The design of the house played on Gothic castle themes. Mr Duncan the original owner lived in the house for over 50 years until 1989.

The Depression had its hold over New South Wales in the 1930s. The square plan Duncan House followed Griffin's composition idea of a house as a nucleus which could be added to as financial strain was eased (Birrell 1964). Over the decades Frank Duncan and his family added some extensions to suit their needs: a bedroom, a garage, and loggia (outdoor covered patio area), modest in scale, and in materials harmonising with the original house.

DUNCAN HOUSE LEADS TO FOUNDING OF THE WALTER BURLEY GRIFFIN SOCIETY
Frank Duncan was an active member of the local community. He was a long term president of the Progress Association in the 1940s. He and his wife Anice worked with other community members to help establish the Castlecrag Kindergarten, and they were prominent members of the Bushwalkers Association (Walter Burley Griffin Society News Update October 1994). Their shared interest in bushwalking led them to close association with the Griffins.

When Mr Duncan revealed in 1988 that he was intending to sell the house and move, the local community wished to preserve his house as a house museum. Mr Duncan supported the idea, and government bodies gave indications that if a locally formed group would operate the museum, then funds could be made available for its purchase (Walter Burley Griffin Society News April 1990).The house received an Interim Conservation Order in 1989.

Thus the Duncan House was the inspiration for the formation of The Walter Burley Griffin Society Incorporated. The house was felt to be possibly the best preserved of Griffin's surviving houses (Walter Burley Griffin Society News April 1990). It was unpainted, and the kitchen and bathroom were original. At auction time, funds were not available for its purchase after all and the house sold to a private owner. The Society went on to achieve other successes, substantially raising awareness of the work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. A drawing of the Duncan House, by John Llewellyn, features on the masthead of the Society Newsletter.

A Permanent Conservation Order was placed on the house in 1993. New extensions have been added to the house following that date. A number of elements of Mr Duncan's house as he left it in 1989 have been modernised. In the 1990s Willoughby Local Government Area designated the Griffin Conservation Area which includes the area of the Duncan House.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural - Coasts and coastal features supporting human activities-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and gardens of domestic accommodation-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes demonstrating styles in landscape design-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and parklands of distinctive styles-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Residential-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. A Picturesque Residential Suburb-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Adapted heritage building or structure-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Architectural design-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. housing (suburbs)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Sub-division of large estates-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 20th century Suburban Developments-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Subdivision of urban estates-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creating landmark structures and places in suburban settings-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Cultural Social and religious life-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Developing suburbia-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Vernacular hamlets and settlements-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Planning relationships between key structures and town plans-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Developing towns in response to topography-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages living in the suburbs-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Suburban Consolidation-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Artists settlement and networks-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. work of stonemasons-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - 20th c bush garden style-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Interwar Modernist-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - 20th century interwar-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - 20th century interwar-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Designing in an exemplary architectural style-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Building in response to natural landscape features.-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Adaptation of overseas design for local use-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Artists, bohemians and intellectuals squat or gathering point-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Interior design styles and periods - Inter War-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1900-1950-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1950-2000-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in a bushland setting-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in a new house-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in, adapting and renovating homes for changing conditions-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living on the urban fringe-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ornamental Garden-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gardening-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going bushwalking-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Community volunteering-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Fund-raising activities for community charities-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Belonging to an institution for self improvement-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing local clubs and meeting places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing clubs for social improvement-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Belonging to an historical society or heritage organisation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Community organisations-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin architects and landscape architects-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Frank and Anice Duncan, bushwalkers, engaged citizens-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Duncan House in Castlecrag is historically significant as one of Walter Burley Griffin's designed houses constructed of local stone and knitlock concrete. The Griffin-conceived Castlecrag area subdivision is historically significant at state level for its innovative goal of working with natural landforms and flora rather than against them. The estate left a legacy of four miles of conserved harbouside foreshore in the Willoughby Local Government area. The estate is historically significant as the home of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin who lived there approximately 1924-1936.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The house is significant for its association with the work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, architects of national and international significance. Griffin was the designer of Australia's capital in Canberra, as well as dwellings and public buildings in Melbourne, Sydney, the United States and India. Griffin was personally associated with the house as well as professionally, being an associate of Mr Duncan and a member of the Castlecrag residential community.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The house is aesthetically significant as a visually delightful and intact at date of listing interpretation of Walter Burley Griffin's vision for buildings in the Castlecrag area. The original house sits modestly in harmony with nature. Frank Duncan left the house in 1989 with original forms and finishes intact, plus several additions of his own.The house is technically significant for its use of Griffin-patented knitlock concrete in combination with stone.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Duncan House is socially significant as the house which inspired formation of the Walter Burley Griffin Society Inc. The house is socially significant as the home for over 50 years of an associate of Walter Burley Griffin, Frank Duncan, who commissioned the house. Mr and Mrs Duncan were active and valued community members and the house has social significance as a link to the original Castlecrag community and to the current local community who remember them.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The house at Number 8 The Barbette has potential to yield information about atypical construction methods of the 1930s. The use of knitlock concrete, the laying of floors onto a prepared earth surface, the flat concrete roof and other Griffin innovations could yield information about the construction techniques and the preservation and wear of these unusual elements.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The house is a rare example of a surviving Griffin-designed house in the Castlecrag area. It is the last Griffin-designed house to be constructed in Castlecrag and is a rare example of knitlock reinforced with galvanised steel.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The Duncan House is representative of the work of architect Walter Burley Griffin. The house is an excellent example of the houses designed by Griffin in the area of Castlecrag where Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin envisaged and implemented a community living together and supporting each other in buildings subordinate to nature not dominant over it.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(a) Conservation and restoration works carried out in accordance with a conservation plan approved by the Heritage Council of New South Wales.
(b) Maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing fabric, but does not include; major repairs, restoration, renovation, and painting of previously unpainted surfaces unless included in an approved conservation plan;
(c) The minor repair of the building where minor repair means the repair of materials by patching, piercing-in, splicing and consolidating existing materials and including minor replacements of minor components such as individual bricks, cutstone, timber sections, tiles and slates where these have been damaged beyond reasonable repair or are missing. The replacement should be of the same material, colour, texture, form and design as the original it replaces and the number of components it replaced should be substantially less than existing.
(d) Garden maintenance, including cultivation, pruning, weed control, the repair and maintenance of existing fences, gates and garden walls, tree surgery but not extensive lopping;
(e) Demolition of / or internal works to the loggia link provided that the existing relationship with the courtyard and the original house is retained;
(f) Demolition of / or internal works to the second bedroom;
(g) Works to the new northern extension provided that the existing relationship with the courtyard and the original house is retained;
(h) Replacement of sanitary fittings and services within the bathroom provided that the works are sympathetic with the original house and are carried out in such a manner as to minimise damage to significant fabric.
Mar 12 1993
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0074202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0074222 Jan 93 7220
Heritage Act - Interim Conservation Order - Lapsed  12 Mar 93 241155
Heritage Act - s.130 Order - Lapsed  24 Jan 92 12470

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 2006Barani Indigenous History of Sydney City; Aboriginal People and Place
Written  Heritage Office File S90/4216
WrittenD.A. & J.D. Spencer1994Report on restoration of the Duncan House
WrittenDavid L. Johnson1977The Architecture of Walter Burley Griffin
WrittenJahn, Graham1997Sydney Architecture
WrittenJames Birrell1964Walter Burley Griffin
WrittenPeter Harrison2006Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition Walter Burley Griffin 1876-1937 View detail
WrittenRichard Apperly, Robert Irving, Peter Reynolds1994A Pictorial Guide to Identifiying Australian Architecture
WrittenStuart Read, inter alia2006Landscape Architecture View detail
WrittenWalter Burley Griffin Society2006Griffin Heritage Inventory; News Updates; Lives and Works
WrittenWatson, Anne (ed.)2015Visionaries in Suburbia - Griffin Houses in the Sydney landscape

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045177
File number: S90/04216/002


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