Building at Risk: Danne House Melbourne




The Danne House was once the most eye-catching modernist houses in the Studley Park area. It is being auctioned on 12 April, at 12 noon, by Woodards. (Tony Nathan 0412 285 066)

It is now disguised by the external alterations and additions of the early 1980s, but has the potential to regain much of its original character. While the original building envelope has been subsumed by additions facing the street, most the original structure has been retained. This includes the striking original feature, the curved rear wing, built over two levels in stone salvaged from the burnt out shell of Wilson Hall. It is has a curved highlight window wall built in diagonal framing, and original circular skylights, one of the earliest uses of skylights in residential use in Melbourne. Circular skylights such as this, with internal lights, were a feature of many buildings by Alvo Aalto in Finland at this time. These features are shown in this recent photo showing the rear view of the Danne House at the left.

The architect Geoffrey Danne designed this house for his own family. It demonstrates how architects built experimental and innovative houses for their own use. The striking design was recorded as the feature house in the June 1957 edition of Australian House and Garden, which is attached.

Another distinctive house by Danne is the Muspratt House, located nearby at 14 Carnsworth Avenue, featured on the National Trust News in May 2010, an issue devoted to modernism. By contrast, it is very intact and has many design details used for the Danne House. See the link to Studley Park Modern website

Commenced in 1954 and completed in 1956, the Danne House comprised two main sections. Facing the street was a lightweight third floor that cantilevered over the two storey car space and entry. This anticipated Sean Godsell’s own dramatically cantilevered house, also in Studley Park. The steel columns and support beams were clearly expressed, and complemented by the vertical rods that defined the entrance and provided a balustrade for the cantilevered entrance stairs. Lightweight concrete panels were used for the cladding of this section.

Download the full Pdf  with information, photo and documentation and floors plans on the house

The Danne House (PDF 630k) (pdf by Nigel Lewis Pty Ltd)