|List||Commonwealth Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Listed place (22/06/2004)|
|Place File No||7/03/004/0042|
|Summary Statement of Significance|
Burnett House, constructed in 1939, is one of four houses comprising the significant tropical housing precinct built for executive level public servants at Myilly Point, Darwin. The houses are significant individually and as a group.
Burnett House, along with the other remaining three houses, are the best surviving examples of the work of B.C.G. Burnett as Architect in the Works and Services Branch, Commonwealth Department of Interior, for civilian occupation. Burnett House is also associated with a number of senior government public servants who lived in the house since its construction (Criterion H.1).
Individually and as a group the houses are architecturally significant for incorporating a range of design features adapted to Darwin's tropical climate including the incorporation of cross ventilation, an elevated floor, louvred openings, pitched roof, wide eaves and internal partition walls not to full height. The houses represent a major design development which influenced the design for tropical housing in Darwin and the north of Australia.
The houses demonstrate early and rare elements of housing design for tropical climates in Darwin, including being amongst the first applications of the principles lowered internal walls and the use of louvres to create cross ventilation. The houses are one of the oldest surviving groups of housing in Darwin. Burnett House is the only Type K house remaining in Darwin. The location is also significant making use of available views and sea breezes and Burnett House is surrounded by a mature tropical garden which complements the appearance of the house. (Criteria A.4, B.2, E.1 & F.1).
Burnett House illustrates the development of Commonwealth territorial government in Darwin. It is also associated with the Australian Women's Army Service occupation of the area in the latter stages of World War Two and immediately after (Criterion A.4).
The houses are valued historically and aesthetically by the local community who fought alongside the National Trust in the 1980s for their retention (Criteria E.1 and G.1).
Beni Carr Glynn Burnett (1889-1955) was born in Mongolia, the son of Scottish Presbyterian missionaries, and raised in China. He worked as an architect in China and Singapore, and travelled through Europe, North America and Japan. In 1934 he came to Australia and in 1937 he was appointed Architect in the Works and Services Branch, Department of Interior, and commenced work in its newly established Darwin office.
His first task was to design high quality "tropical" housing for executive public servants and military personnel. Burnett's designs were influenced by the architecture of Southeast Asia. His designs maximised new materials such as asbestos cement sheeting, corrugated roof cladding and a unique form of louvres with patterning by casement windows. He utilised ventilation and designed living spaces to suit the climate of Darwin. In Darwin, Burnett also designed houses at the RAAF Base (RNE 16338 and 16339) and the Sergeants Mess and the Headquarters Building, 1940 (RNE 016321, 014936, 014937) at the Larrakeyah Barracks.
Burnett had a long term influence on local architecture in both civilian and military housing. He was evacuated from Darwin to Alice Springs following Japanese air raids in 1942. He designed a number of houses in Alice Springs which are quite different to his tropical designs for coastal Darwin. He remained in Alice Springs until his death in 1955.
Myilly Point was identified early on as a suitable site for executive housing due to its location providing coastal views and sea breezes.
By early 1938 Burnett called for tenders for the construction of a group of houses at Myilly Point, representing the conclusion of a Commonwealth Government policy for an "approved housing scheme" for high-ranking government officers, originally formulated under the first major town planning scheme of the early 1930s. Five houses were built at Myilly Point using four basic designs Type B, E, K and L. Two of the Type E houses were built. The houses were given a number of the alphabet to designate a variation in style. The first house built was the Type B house for the Commonwealth Auditor in 1938 followed by the other four in 1939.
Burnett's designs provided aesthetic variety around a range of standard features. The buildings were all elevated except for the Burnett House (which combined upstairs sleeping with downstairs living). The bedrooms were located around or to one side of a central open living area. In several designs, the bedrooms were split into a dressing area and sleeping verandah. The verandahs were completely enclosed with asbestos cement louvres to allow cross ventilation.
The houses were all constructed of asbestos cement sheeting, corrugated iron roof cladding and an unusual form of louvres with patterning by casement windows. The asbestos cement louvres with glass casement windows provided full screened walls that could be adjusted to suit prevailing weather conditions. All roofs were steeply pitched with an asbestos ridge vent at the top. Air circulated from open eaves through the ceiling space and out the ridge. A number of the internal partitioning walls were not of full height.
The houses were all occupied by public servants by 1939. During the latter half of World War Two the houses were used as rest homes by the Australian Women's Army Service and, at times provided temporary accommodation for nurses. The house on Lot 1100, a Type L design, was demolished after being damaged by Cyclone Tracy.
In 1984, the Myilly Point precinct was the subject of a major heritage battle when development was proposed for the area and the houses were planned for demolition. The National Trust successfully fought to save the houses and now has tenure over three of the houses. Magistrates House is owned by the Northern Territory Government and leased to the National Trust who use it as their office. The Mines and Burnett houses are owned by the Commonwealth, and leased to the National Trust; they can be seen by the public on tours held by the Trust. The Giese residence (Audit House) is owned by the National Trust but Mr and Mrs Giese have life tenancy.
Tenders for two Type K houses to be constructed at Myilly Point were received in 1938. The only tenderer was G. Kafcaloudes, a well known Darwin builder, whose successful tender was 2,500 pounds for each house. Only one of the houses was built.
Burnett House, 1939, was built for the the Director of Works and Construction. At the time of construction the Director of Works was Mr E.W. Stoddart who lived in the house until the bombing of Darwin in 1942. During the war the house was used as a rest home by the Australian Women's Army Service and, at times provided temporary accommodation for nurses. The house was considerably damaged during World War II and was repaired in 1946.
After World War Two the newly appointed Director of Works and Housing, Mr R.C. Lucas lived in the house (October 1946-July 1950); followed by subsequent Directors Mr. R. C. Jones (July 1950-August 1951); and Mr F.C. Vigdens. The house became the "Successor-in-Office" residence for the Commonwealth Auditor from 1955 until 1980, and was tenanted from 1980-1983.
It fell into poor condition in the 1980s but has been repaired and is now well maintained and open to the public during tours conducted by the National Trust.
The Burnett House (Lot 1099) is a Type K design, a particular design by Burnett which shows a distinct similarity to the style of colonial houses in Malaysia and Singapore. It is a two storey house with the living and dining areas at ground level opening onto shaded verandahs and the sleeping areas upstairs. A compass inlay on the ground floor is an unusual feature. The house is of timber framed construction with fibro-sheet cladding and preformed louvres, and uses the characteristic Burnett decorative brackets. The Type K employs his well developed principles of cross ventilation by natural means, the plan providing living and sleeping areas with a large portion of openable wall. The house was considerably damaged during World War Two and was repaired in 1946. It was also badly damaged by Cyclone Tracy. The original corrugated asbestos roof has been replaced with corrugated galvanized iron.
The house is surrounded by a tropical garden.
Burnett House, Lot 1099 is the only Type K design in Darwin. Magistrates House on Lot 1102 is a Type E house; it is owned by the Northern Territory Government and used as an office by the National Trust. Audit House (Giese residence) Lot 1100 is a Type B design. Mines House is a Type E house and is owned by the Commonwealth.
|History Not Available|
|Condition and Integrity|
|The house is in good condition (2001). The original asbestos cement roof was damaged in Cyclone Tracy and replaced with corrugated galvanised iron. Restoration was undertaken from the mid 1980s.|
|4 Burnett Close , Larrakeyah, Darwin (formerly 52 Temira Crescent).|
Allom Lovell Marquis-Kyle. "Myilly Point Conservation Area Darwin: Management Plan", for the Australian Heritage Commission, 1988. |
Australian Heritage Commission. "Tropical Heritage Housing", notes, July 2000.
Carment, D. "Looking at Darwin's Past: Material Evidence of European Settlement in Tropical Australia", North Australia Research Unit, The Australian University, Darwin, 1996.
Hardwick, C. "Register of Significant European Cultural Heritage Sites in the Northern Territory", a report for the National Trust of Australia (N.T.), Darwin 1984.
Hunt Giles & Partners Pty. Ltd. "Architectural Assessment Lots 1098, 1099, 1101 & 1102 Myilly Point, Darwin, N.T.", January 1984.
National Trust of Australia (N.T.) "Myilly Point" n.d.
Northern Territory Heritage Register "Myilly Point Precinct".
Welke, A.C. and Wilson, H.J. "Darwin Central Area Heritage Study", a report for the Conservation Commission of the NT, Darwin 1983.
Information from the National Trust of Australia (N.T.); Troppo Architects; Australian Archives (N.T.); Department of Housing and Construction and the Department of Transport and Works.
Report Produced Fri Dec 13 14:20:48 2013