Yuncken Freeman

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Yuncken Freeman
Practice information
Firm type
Key architects
  • Otto Abrecht Yuncken
  • John Freeman
  • Tom Freeman
  • William Balcombe Griffiths
  • Roy Simpson (1945)
Founded 1933 (1933)
Dissolved circa late 1980s (1980s)
Location Melbourne (head office)
Significant works and honors
Design La Trobe University masterplan
Awards Simpson: RAIA Gold Medal (1997)

Yuncken Freeman, officially Yuncken Freeman Architects Pty Ltd and formerly Yuncken, Freeman Brothers, Griffiths & Simpson, was an Australian architecture firm. Founded in Melbourne, Victoria in 1933, Yuncken Freeman grew steadily, particularly from the economic boom from the 1950s to 1980s, to be a sizeable firm in Australia, with branch offices in Hong Kong as well as other parts of south-east Asia until its dissolution during the late 1980s.[1]

The firm is perhaps best known for major public works by Barry Patten, predominately in Melbourne, and by Roy Simpson, predominately in Canberra. Some of the firm's notable projects include the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Cardinal Knox Centre, BHP House, and the Canberra Civic Centre.

In 1997 Simpson was awarded the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal for his significant contribution to architecture.[2]


Yuncken Freeman began in 1933 when Otto (Rob) Yuncken and John Freeman left their positions as senior associates in A & K Henderson; together with Freeman's brother, Tom, and William Balcombe Griffiths, also employees at A & K Henderson. In 1945 Roy Simpson was recruited into Yuncken Freeman on the recommendation of a fellow student during his time at the School of Design in University of Melbourne.[2]

By the 1940s the operations of the firm was disrupted by World War II, which unavoidably grew to be a much serious threat than before. Rob Yuncken and Roy Simpson eventually enlisted into service, providing planning and design services to the U.S. Army Engineers Corps. In 1946, Yuncken and Simpson returned to Melbourne only to find the members of the original group scattered. They reunited the practice.[2] In 1947, Yuncken Freeman was appointed by the Victorian Government to initiate an emergency housing project, produced in England and to be shipped to Australia. Simpson, who had experience during his days in the U.S. Army, headed the project where he provided designs for pre-built housing that could be assembled by unskilled labour. Fifty years later, many of these emergency homes remained occupied.[2]

By 1963 Balcombe Griffiths and Roy Simpson were the sole survivors of the five original partners, along with descendant John Yuncken, subsequently added Barry Patten and John Gates (1953), Robert Peck and Jamie Learmonth and others. Patten introduced the firm's international modernist architecture style, based on the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, as seen in their 411 King Street offices, Eagle Star & BHP House. In the mid-1970s, Yuncken Freeman sacked 15 architects and the 8 directors took a 20% pay cut, only five years after completion of the State Government Offices. Patten told The Age: "The situation is very bad - there just isn't any work available. We have employed people for years and we are now finding it very difficult to keep them occupied. It is very worrying."[citation needed]

Major architectural works[edit]

Sidney Myer Music Bowl
BHP Building
Eagle House

Yuncken Freeman has designed some of Australia's landmark buildings including the following major architectural projects:

Completed Project name Location Award Notes
1958 Sidney Myer Music Bowl Kings Domain, Melbourne [3][4]
1963 ACT Law Courts Canberra City, Canberra [5]
1965 AON Centre (Royal Insurance Group Building) 430 - 444 Collins Street, Melbourne Victorian Architecture Medal (1967) [6]
1964 La Trobe University Masterplan Bundoora Campus, Melbourne, Australia [7]
1965 Canberra Civic Centre Canberra City [8]
1969 State Government Offices 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne RAIA Victorian Bronze Medal for Excellence (1970) [9][10]
1971 Cardinal Knox Centre 383 Albert Street, East Melbourne
1972 BHP House 140 William Street, Melbourne RVIA Victorian Architects Award (1975) [11]
1972 Eagle House 473 - 481 Bourke Street, Melbourne RAIA Award of Merit (1972) [12]
1976 Estates House 114 - 128 William Street, Melbourne
Eagle Star Insurance Building 28 Grenfell Street, Adelaide [13][permanent dead link]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Yuncken Freeman Architects Pty Ltd". University of Melbourne Archives. University of Melbourne. 3 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d Simpson, Roy; Simpson, Donne (1 November 1997). "AS Hook Address 1997". Architecture Australia. 86 (6). Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  3. ^ "Sidney Myer Musical Bowl". Internationally significant public architecture. Australian Institute of Architects. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  4. ^ "Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Alexandra Avenue, Melbourne City, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H1772". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  5. ^ "Law Courts of the ACT Building" (PDF). Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture. Australian Institute of Architects. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  6. ^ Goad, Philip (2003). Judging Architecture: Issues, Divisions, Triumphs, Victorian Architecture Awards 1929-2003. Melbourne: Royal Australian Institute of Architects. ISBN 1863180346. 
  7. ^ Sievers, Wolfgang (1965). "La Trobe University [architectural] model, Victoria, architect: Yuncken Freeman" (picture). National Library of Australia. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  8. ^ Warden, Ian (6 June 2013). "Theatre design scaled back". Canberra Times. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  9. ^ "State Government Offices" (PDF). Nationally Significant 20th-Century Architecture. Australian Institute of Architects. 22 April 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "State Offices - Group Classification,1 Macarthur Street, East Melbourne". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  11. ^ "Former BHP House, 130-148 William Street and 503-523 Bourke Street, Melbourne City, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H1699". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  12. ^ "Eagle House, 473 Bourke Street, Melbourne City, Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H1807". Victorian Heritage Database. Heritage Victoria. Retrieved 24 August 2016. 
  13. ^

External links[edit]