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History at Willoughby
PeopleWalter Burley Griffin
Much of the information below was gathered from the Walter Burley Griffin Society. This is a good website for anyone interested in the architectural history of Castlecrag or environmentally-conscious design.
Walter Burley Griffin was an American-born architect and planner whose career spanned the US, Australia and India. In Australia he is most well-known for the winning design for the city of Canberra (which was not built faithfully to the Griffin’s plan), but after leaving the Canberra project he and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin bought 650 acres of land in Middle Harbour. This area has developed into the suburbs of Castlecrag, Middle Cove and Castle Cove.
The Griffins moved to Castlecrag and lived there for ten years. They designed and developed the area with the goal of creating a suburb in harmony with the natural landscape. The roads followed the contours of the land; they established public natural reserves and the houses were built to take advantage of the setting without disturbing it. More than forty houses were designed but only fifteen were built due to the depression.
In 1929 the Griffins formed a partnership with architect Eric Nicholls in order to design incinerators. Their designs aimed to add an aesthetic aspect to a functional building. One of these is the Willoughby Incinerator, which still stands today.
Walter Burley Griffin died in India in 1937.
Chatswood Library holds a great deal of information about Walter Burley Griffin, who was responsible for naming and planning Castlecrag. There are books, photos, maps and plans of the Castlecrag subdivision as well as material on the Griffin Incinerator. See also the Walter Burley Griffin Society website.
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