They do represent a quite significant achievement: the culmination of British colonial knowledge of how to build in a soakingly hot and humid, termite-ridden, climate. And there is something special about such a simple yet intelligently-designed building in such an extreme setting.
I'll quote from the photo of the signboard (above):
Designing for the tropics
Stretching west down Myilly Point [in east-central Darwin] is a group of four tropical houses designed in 1937 by B.C.G. Burnett, principal Government Architect for the Northern Territory. His previous experience in China and Malaya enabled him to understand the local climate. He designed elevated houses with steep-pitched roofs and open eaves to catch the refreshing sea breezes. Further innovations included replacing the external walls with asbestos-cement [ie., fibrolite] louvres that could be adjusted according to the weather conditions. The living areas and bedrooms were separated by three-quarter height partitions to allow for cross-ventilation. Burnett's practical and aesthetic designs established a regional architectural style that continues to influence contemporary housing designs.Burnett's tropical designs are very well known in tropical architecture circles, and were widely emulated, as Murcutt would know and just as he would expect the readers of his own architecure to know. So, I would imagine -- and here I'm speculating-- that Murcutt was intentionally "reinterpreting the colonial response" to the Australian climate in a new "multicultural context." Or something like that. And he would expect his "readers" to be able to "interpret" what he'd "reinterpreted."All very "postmodern" in that respect, then.
But I'm posting the photographs for another reason too: simply because this was a bloody nice house to be in, even at the hottest part of the day. "Colonialist," "imperialist" or whatever you want to call him, Mr Burnett had done a very nice job of very intelligently and very simply designing a house for a bloody uncomfortable place in which to live. On this evidence I'd just call him a very fine craftsman, and a pretty intelligent architect.