Gibson House

Melbourne; Australian design on a world stage; innovative design and use of materials; the impact of modernism, and of immigration; how to become an architect, or develop as one; models of practice; dealing with tariffs and legislation - these and many other themes can be explored in the extensive records of Yuncken Freeman Architects.

‘Gibson House’ Beaumaris, c.1955, YFA Job No 260, 2018.0015, Reproduced courtesy of The Estate of Athol Shmith.
‘Gibson House’ Beaumaris, c.1955, YFA Job No 260, 2018.0015, Reproduced courtesy of The Estate of Athol Shmith

The firm was established in 1933, by Otto “Rob” Yuncken, brothers John and Tom Freeman, and (Willliam) Balcombe Griffiths, three of whom studied at Melbourne.  After Barry Patten and Roy Simpson joined the firm and helped to revitalise it after the disruption of WWII, the firm designed some of Australia’s most notable architectural works. Such projects included the Sidney Myer Music Bowl (Reynolds Award 1959), AON Centre (Victorian Architecture Medal 1967), Treasury Place (RAIA Victorian Bronze Medal for Excellence 1970), Eagle House (RAIA Award of Merit 1972), BHP House (RVIA Victorian Architects Award 1975) as well as the Master Plan for Latrobe University and a number of significant projects in Melbourne, Canberra and abroad. Several YFA projects are listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

The evolution of YFA largely reflects that of Australian architecture in the mid-to-late 20th century. During this time, designers were experimenting with materials, form and space, expressing the ideas of modernism in public and residential work as well as in large scale planning projects. The team at YFA interpreted modernism in an Australian voice.

The YFA collections at UMA are varied and provide both a broad and deep picture of the firm, and of 20th century architecture in Australia.  Several series of records concern projects undertaken by the firm – drawings, related contracts and documentation, newscuttings and photographs.  These are augmented by series of operations records from the firm and a small quantity of personal records from several of its principals.

Architectural drawings and documentation are available now - search for ‘Yuncken Freeman’ in our catalogue. Keep an eye out for the photographs series which will be available later this year.

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