Overview of this Section

The remarkable parallel between the decline and resurgence of the fortunes of the Griffins and that of the Fishwick house itself is documented in this website's Prominence and Significance section.  A good measure of the much-improved level of interest in their lives and works is the continuing growth in the number of books, lavishly illustrated magazine articles, TV and radio documentaries and public events which feature them.

However, it is not simply the increasing number of these events which is significant.  The audience of people who have become interested in the Griffins has also become much broader.  Initially, books about them were addressed to academics or architectural specialists, but of late they are increasingly intended for  a more general audience.  For example, some described in this section could be accurately described as glossy “coffee table" books.  Similarly, many TV and radio documentaries have been produced for national distribution through mass media.  Four video clips containing excellent images of the house's interior are described and can be viewed through the Images of House section. Two interesting audio clips can also be heard containing interviews with the house's owners; these are described below. 

At least in Australia, the Fishwick house has clearly emerged as the Griffin building most frequently featured in these non-specialist publications and productions. Listed below are some twenty books and other media which prominently feature the house.  To assist those who might wish to learn more about the Griffins, a selection of recommended general works is also listed below.  Other comprehensive sources are the websites of both the Australian and American Walter Burley Griffin societies which contain excellent bibliographies; see the Links section for details. 

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Books & Articles Featuring the House


1994Building for Nature - Walter Burley Griffin and Castlecrag
Meredith Walker, James Weirick and Adrienne Kabos.  Walter Burley Griffin Society

The first highly-detailed book on the Griffins’ development of Castlecrag, their “ideal suburb”.  Its cover photograph is a 1930 view of the recently completed house which it describes as “the most celebrated of the houses in Castlecrag because it demonstrates the Griffin ideas applied for a client with the will, the means and the enthusiasm to implement them”.


1998The Griffins in Australia and India
Jeff Turnbull and Peter Navaretti.  Melbourne University Press

A comprehensive cataloguing of all of Griffin’s known works outside the US.  Describing him as “Australia’s first internationally significant architect”, it allocates eight full pages to text and images of the house.


The Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney's most venerable and respected newspaper published a “special edition” of its Domain section as a separate guide and supplement during “Sydney Design Week”.  The house was prominently featured, occupying the supplement’s entire centre spread and showing many beautiful photographs by Patrick Cummins.  This publicity generated the largest-ever queues of people hoping to tour the house.


1999Austral Eden - 200 Years of Australian Architecture
Patrick Bingham-Hall.  Watermark Press

This book, by Australia’s most respected and prolific architectural photographer, commentator and publisher, is “a visual history of the best of Australian architecture from settlement to the end of the 20th century”.  It devotes a full page to the house, citing it as an outstanding example of Griffin’s organic architecture, “designed to play a subordinate role to the natural landscape…it juts out into the bush in the manner of a sandstone outcrop”.


2000Private Sydney
Willem Rethmeier and Jenna Reed Burns.  Scriptum Editions

As the first beautifully-produced glossy “coffee table” book featuring Griffin’s work, it was released to catch the attention of Sydney Olympics visitors and was marketed widely through retail bookstores.  It devotes 12 pages to the house including 15 colour pictures and says the residences selected were “the best of modern Australian architecture, chosen for characteristic style”, and that the Fishwick house illustrates that “surprisingly, it took a couple of overseas architects to first attempt to respond to the Australian native bush”.


2002Eight Great Houses
Guy Allenby and Patrick Bingham-Hall.  Pesaro Publishing

This book has detailed descriptions and analyses of eight Australian houses which were selected by Bingham-Hall, one of Australia's leading architectural photographers.  It was broadly released through his own publishing company.  It is “about the joys and pleasures of architecture as experienced through the stories of extraordinary houses”.  It devotes 22 pages to the house including 23 pictures and drawings.


2003100 Amazing Sydney Homes
Cerentha Harris and Guy Allenby.  The Sydney Morning Herald

This was offered as a freestanding “obtainable at your newsagent only” supplement to The Herald and was published across two consecutive Saturdays.  Feature writers, designers and photographers from the paper's publisher, Fairfax, chose the houses “for their architects’ inspiration, creativity and appropriate response to Sydney’s climate and culture".  It praises the Fishwick house as “settled into the landscape.  It and its grounds are developing into the seamless whole Griffin always intended it to be”.


2005Sydney Architecture
Paul McGillick and Patrick Bingham-Hall.  Pesaro Publishing

This lavishly illustrated book documents “the boldly experimental and exploratory strand of Sydney’s architectural history” rather than its derivative strand.  Griffin’s work and ideas are referred to frequently and he is “said to be seen as the prophet of the ‘Sydney School’ of the 1960s…In effect, he inspired the domestic architecture which has come to exemplify Sydney”.  It includes two pages on the house.


2008Australian Gardens for a Changing Climate
Jenna Reed Burns and Simon Griffiths.  Penguin Group

“these inspiring examples… chosen because of their clever design, sensory impact and continuing success despite the climatic constraints”.  It devotes six pages to the Fishwick house’s native garden and includes six colour photographs.  


2009Handbook of Art
Graham Hopwood and Colleen Fry.  Science Press

Intended for students of art, design and architecture, this book recounts the evolution of these disciplines and their various “schools”, placing the world’s masterpieces into context.  The Griffins and the Fishwick house are included in the chapter on Australian Modernism and are described as “introducing the country to a new concept of modern living”.  A photograph of the house is amongst the cover illustrations.  


2011Griffin Our Contemporary
Anne Watson.  Habitus Magazine

Watson, the curator of the Powerhouse Museum’s 1998 Beyond Architecture exhibition, prepared this 16 page article for Habitus, Australia’s most prestigious design magazine, which is published quarterly.  The editorial says the Griffins’ “unrealised plans for Australia’s capital may be Canberra’s loss; the houses they designed in Castlecrag [are] Sydney’s gain”.  The article looks at how Griffin’s Fishwick, Cheong and Redstone houses have been adapted for contemporary use.


201220th Century World Architecture
Phaidon Press Limited (UK)

Distributed internationally, this authoritative reference book is a major extension of this pre-eminent architecture and design publisher’s Atlas series.  With 832 pages, it is extremely large and comprehensive comprising “the finest built architecture from around the world in the 20th century, juxtaposing architectural icons with regional masterpieces”.  It describes and evaluates 757 commercial, residential, civic, religious and cultural buildings in 97 countries.  The Fishwick house is featured on a full-colour page.  It is one of only 134 single residences included in the atlas and is the only Australian house represented from the first half of the 20th century.


2013Landmarks - A History of Australia in 33 Places
National Museum of Australia

The National Museum published this book to complement its new permanent gallery of the same name in which Castlecrag was selected as one of four suburbs to represent the diversity of urban life in Australia.  The book, released after the exhibition, “explores the links between historical events, people and places across Australia”.  It devotes six pages to Castlecrag and features a full page colour photograph of the house.  The museum’s gallery displays a variety of artefacts, plans and photographs about Castlecrag, along with a large display panel allocated to descriptions and photographs of the house.


2013Garden Voices
Anne Latreille.  Bloomings Books

Latreille, long-time Gardening Editor of The Melbourne Age, here “examines the work, lives and messages of selected garden designers, past and present, around Australia”.  Those nineteen featured all “have understood and responded to the places where they work in such a way that their gardens…impart a special message”.  The essence of Griffin’s approach is to respect the land, respond to nature and touch the land lightly.  The Griffin-related material concentrates on Newman College and Castlecrag; two large photographs of the house are featured.


2015Visionaries in Suburbia - Griffin Houses in the Sydney Landscape
Anne Watson (Ed).  Walter Burley Griffin Society

This is an updated and much-expanded follow-up to the society's 1994 publication, Building for Nature.  It now includes information on all of Griffin's Sydney houses, as well as some of his unbuilt projects.  Its ten page review of the house includes a detailed essay on it and many historic and contemporary photographs.

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Recommended Books on the Griffins


1964Walter Burley Griffin
James Birrell.  University of Queensland Press

Despite their international prominence as winners of the competition to design Australia’s capital, there were no books published about the Griffins’ lives and works until this, inspired by Canberra’s 50th anniversary the previous year.  Its forward by Robin Boyd, now considered Australia’s first and most eminent architectural historian, calls Griffin “a great pioneer of modern architecture in his own right … capable of outstanding brilliance in conception”.  It describes aspects of the house.


1977The Architecture of Walter Burley Griffin
Donald Leslie Johnson.  The Macmillan Company of Australia

This, the second book on Griffin, is more academically rigorous than Birrell’s.  It reveals Griffin as an “architectural genius whose philosophy and contribution to modern architectural practice continue to be felt today” and says his work had “a profound influence on the concepts of architecture, land-planning and environment design”.


1980Australian Architecture 1901-51: Sources of Modernism
Donald Leslie Johnson.  Sydney University Press

While Johnson's 1997 book aimed to be "a comprehensive survey and assessment of an architectural genius", the very first paragraph of its Preface was a brief outline of the stylistic predecessors of Australian modern architecture. Johnson's 1980 book expands upon and concentrates on that theme.  In it Griffin and his works hold a central place and he is lauded as the architectural thinker and practitioner who brought the modern movement to the country.  It also contains a section on his "Students and Followers"; this is the only published exploration of a possible Griffin "School".


1988Walter Burley Griffin - A Re-view
Jenepher Duncan & Merryn Grates (Eds).  Monash University Press

This collection of essays was released in conjunction with the first public exhibition on the Griffins at Monash University Gallery.  This followed a decision mostly by Australian and US Mid-West academics to encourage research into their lives and works.  The lead essay by James Weirick "The Magic of America Vision and Text" contains plans and a photograph of the house along with an extensive description of its qualities.


1998Beyond Architecture
Anne Watson (Ed).  Powerhouse Publishing 

Released in conjunction with the Sydney Powerhouse Museum’s very successful exhibition “Beyond Architecture”, this book is a collection of essays on aspects of the lives and careers of the Griffins by Australian and American Griffin scholars.  It covers many new areas of research and presents fresh ideas and interpretation based on newly discovered written source material and objects.  This is the first book which reproduces Marion’s wonderful architectural renderings.  It also includes some of Griffin’s furniture and lighting designs.


2003Walter Burley Griffin - Architectural Models of Projects and Demolished Buildings
Paul Kruty.  School of Architecture, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

A small, but unique and valuable work, this book assembles photographs and supporting documentation of wooden models produced by twelve of Kruty's graduate students as part of their academic programme.  In justification, he points out that many significant Griffin projects were demolished or unbuilt and that three-dimensional objects yield greater appreciation than graphic renderings or photographs.  Included are models of eight houses, a fountain, a cement pavilion and a superb, fully contoured realisation of Griffin's Rock Crest/Rock Glen development in Mason City, Iowa complete with miniature Griffin houses.  A bonus is an essay on the sources of Griffin's ideas and philosophies and the emergence of "Midwest Modernism".


2007The Crag - Castlecrag 1924 - 1938
Wanda Spathopoulos.  Brandl and Schlesinger

This book's author grew up in Castlecrag where her family was deeply involved with its "extraordinary and unique community with its parties, theatrical events and festivals".  She states that she did not set out to write a history, but rather a vivid, anecdotal account of life on Castlecrag which was "presided over by the larger-than-life Marion and her quiet, gentle husband Walter, who lived according to their vision of Building for Nature".  She describes the community's interest in the Fishwick house's planning and construction and relates her personal impressions of it from her many visits.


2008The Writings of Walter Burley Griffin
Dustin Griffin (Ed).  Cambridge University Press

Edited by his grand-nephew, this impressively thorough book has rescued 71 of Griffin’s essays, speeches and newspaper interviews from obscurity.  It thematically groups and overviews his thoughts and philosophies on urban planning, architecture and landscape architecture, reflecting “the variety and interrelation of his professional interests”  and provides “unparalleled access to the thoughts of one of modernist architecture’s leading figures”.  It describes various aspects of the house.


2009Grand Obsessions - The Life and Work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin
Alasdair McGregor.  Penguin Group

A comprehensively researched biography of both Walter and Marion directed at a general audience, this book received wide publicity and won the 2011 National Biography Award.  It describes the Fishwick house as “a house of inventiveness” and contains a photograph of it soon after its completion.

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1996 No Fences, No Boundaries TV
  Australian Broadcasting Commission  


A TV biography that examines Griffin’s life and works.  It draws upon Marion’s unpublished biography “Magic of America” and includes rare film of life in early Castlecrag.


1998 Castlecrag Exhibition Screening
  Powerhouse Museum Sydney  


This film was produced as part of the Powerhouse Museum’s exhibition “Beyond Architecture” which reviewed the local work of the Griffins.  For details and access to a video clip see Film Documentaries.


1998 In His Own Right TV


An Emmy award-winner, this TV documentary profiles the life and careers of Walter and Marion with special emphasis on their US work and their controversial relationships with Frank Lloyd Wright.


2000 City of Dreams TV
  Film Australia  


Produced for general TV broadcasting, this documentary has been screened nationally a number of times on ABC channels. For details and access to a video clip see Film Documentaries.


2002 Going Native Garden TV
  Lifestyle Productions  


Brendan Moar, a well-known landscape architect, film producer and presenter of TV programmes on landscaping and gardening, made and hosted this documentary on the house's garden and neighbouring reserves for the Lifestyle Channel. For details and access to a video clip see Film Documentaries.


2004 Beyond Architecture Radio
  Australian Broadcasting Commission  


This documentary was made for the ABC’s regular weekly “Compass” radio programme. It is a re-evaluation of the work of the Griffins looking at the extent, if at all, to which it was informed by their unconventional spiritual and philosophical beliefs and whether it contained a hidden esoteric or occult sub-text. 

(The website has no link to this programme.)


2012 The Idealists: Creating Castlecrag Radio
  ABC Radio National  


A thoroughly researched and wide-ranging production from "Hindsight", ABC’s primary historical programme.  This one-hour radio documentary was recorded in the house and featured interviews with Alasdair McGregor, author of Grand Obsessions, and the house’s owners.

Audio Clip:  "The Idealists"  (3m 30s)


2013 Building Australia TV
  History Channel  


This six-part TV series was produced by the History Channel with assistance from the National Trust and screened nationally through Foxtel. For details and access to a video clip see Film Documentaries


2015 Blueprint For Living Radio
  ABC Radio National  


The ABC's national radio network has for many years broadcast a weekly programme on design, architecture and modern living.  This segment titled "A Labour of Love" introduced the house in the context of Griffin's ambitions for his "ideal suburb" and their actual realisation.  The format is an interview with the current owners on their feelings about the house as they move from room to room.

Audio Clip:  "Blueprint for Living"  (15m 27s)

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