The partnership between Otto Yuncken and Lauritz Hansen proved a durable one and Hansen Yuncken quickly became known for its innovative solutions to difficult problems - a reputation that continues to the present.
In 1925, the company opened a regional branch in Shepparton, Victoria. In 2006 it was decided to expand this regional coverage by opening an office in Albury/Wodonga to service both regional Victoria and Southern New South Wales.
In 1937, Hansen Yuncken expanded its operations into Hobart, Tasmania followed shortly after in 1939 with an office in Adelaide, South Australia.
The late 60’s saw the opening of its Northern Territory office. A permanent presence was maintained until 2000, at which time it was decided to target only the larger projects in the region.
The company also operated an office in Queensland during the early 80's and in 2007 commenced an operation in Cairns, and in 2009 opened an office in Townsville. In 2010 an office in Brisbane was established.
In 1989, the company commenced operations in New South Wales, initially in joint venture, but now operating in its own right. In 2006 a decision was also made to open an office in Newcastle to better service our clients in this area and the Hunter Valley region.
The company's founders, Lauritz Hansen and Otto Yuncken, considered the Port Authority Building in Melbourne, completed in December 1931, to be the company's finest achievement. Alf Ludlow, who joined as Hansen Yuncken's first apprentice in 1921, recalled its construction: "The first time I saw piles put down was at the Harbour Trust (Port Authority) Building in 1929. They were timber piles, not concrete, and were driven by a weight carried up an erected gantry with guides on it. The pile was strapped with a ring around the top to stop it from splitting. They drove it until it didn't move after so many drives. If it refused to move, they considered that it had reached the bottom.
"The gantry for hoisting materials had two wheels right at the top, which had to be greased every day. That was a job for the rigger, to climb up and grease the wheels over which a rope ran down through a snatch block and back to an electric winch. The bell, which was a triangle rung by a piece of cord, would be heard by the winch driver and he would lower the skip. There used to be a man travelling on the skip, but that was later stopped.
"After 1925, Hansen Yuncken would have been the leading builder in Melbourne and we kept pace in all our multi-storey jobs with new machinery. From that point, we increased our capacity with a bigger mixer. We got what they call a bag mixer and there were usually two bag mixers on the city jobs. We were able to put that in the basement in the early stages and we built hoppers for the trucks to bring in the sand, the screening and the cement. They would be shot down a chute to the lower floor and Darkie Austin, who was our main concrete man, and Bill Alley, would be in these pits, and they'd lift the lid of the bin and shoot the sand and the screenings into the hoppers that had levels marked on them. If it was a two-bag batch, you'd put your two bags in and pull the level and it would shoot into the mixed, be mixed and then it would tip into another hopper that had a trap door on it.
"That was opened to fill a rickshaw, which had two wheels and a steel structure that held approximately three barrows. You could wheel the rickshaw along runs to tip it where you were concreting. In the rickshaw, the batch stayed more constant whereas with chutes the concrete tended to separate, as they made the concrete a bit too wet in those days. The standard way of mixing concrete now, using pumps and vibration, that didn't exist in my day".
Tom Duckworth was the General Foreman on the Bank of New South Wales building at 360 Collins Street, Melbourne, which commenced in May 1933. The 11-storey steel-framed building boasted an impressive entrance with two bronze doors that were 8.3 metres high and weighed nearly seven tons, framed by highly polished granite. Inside, it featured a 12-metre square column-free banking chamber which was unprecedented in Melbourne at the time.
The chamber was supported by four steel-plate girders that were over 19 metres long and weighed up to 60 tons each. Manufactured by Johns and Waygood in South Melbourne, they were the longest girders constructed in Victoria at the time and required a specially designed 14-wheeled, 28 horsepower truck for transport to the site.
In those days, steam boilers were used to power the derrick cranes that lifted the girders into place, which occurred in a smooth operation early one morning. A crowd of onlookers gathered to observe the marvellous feat, despite the 2am start.
Hansen Yuncken make its first expansion interstate in 1937 when it commenced building the T&G Office in Hobart. The company established a branch office in that building once it was completed, and sought other work in the state. In 1941, Hansen Yuncken was contracted to build the Ovaltine factory for Wenden & Co. at Spreyton, south of Devonport.
Like all the Tasmanian projects, Otto Yuncken took a keen interest in the Ovaltine factory, flying to Devonport for fortnightly site visits on the recently established Australian National Airways.
While the four-storey factory and its tall chimney were built using traditional materials and methods - brick and concrete, timber hoists, frames and scaffolds - it represented Hansen Yuncken's embrace of new transport technologies which enabled it to take on projects in other states that could be administered from the head office in Melbourne.
Looking back, it is apparent that construction of the Stock Exchange Building in Melbourne, which commenced in 1965, and the Royal Hobart Hospital, which began the following year, occurred on the cusp of a building technology revolution. Both projects combined the use of traditional equipment such as stiff-legged cranes for materials handling and new technologies such as precast panels, Favco cranes, electric passenger and materials hoists and concrete trucks, which were only just making their way on to building sites.
As well as being the largest project undertaken by Hansen Yuncken at the time it was built, the Alfred Hospital Main Ward Block incorporated a major innovation in its foundation. The site's sandy geology posed problems because the design called for an excavation to a depth of 10 to 12 metres, but the ground water surface level was at about three to four metres.
Max Hansen said "We used a well point system around the site to suck water out of ground and drain it before excavating narrow, deep trenches with a purpose-built excavator, which were then progressively filled with Bentonite slurry. We then used massive precast panels - we had the biggest mobile cranes in the country at the time - that were dropped into the ground through the Bentonite slurry. Then we worked around and tied the whole lot together, so the bottom formed a solid concrete raft about 2.5 metres thick at a depth of 12 metres. It was designed to settle as it got bigger, and it settled about five to seven centimetres overall. An ordinary steel-framed building sits on top of the raft."
The $6.2m bicentennial project designed by Raffen Maron Architects houses a tropical rainforest in its natural climactic environment. It consists of a three-dimensional steel frame - 100m long, 47m wide and 27m high - supported on a dish-shaped raft foundation approximately two metres deep at the centre, to accommodate soil for tropical plants.
The erection of all 28 trusses, which carried 2092 glass panes and mechanical systems such as hydraulic spray pipes and hoisting apparatus to provide maintenance access, was achieved without a single breakage.
Within the structure, suspended walkways and viewing platforms allow visitors to look down into a natural setting more reminiscent of a tropical island than a garden in the southern state. The completed building project was praised as a tribute to the site manager John Lamb.
The project won the Sir Zelman Cowan national award for Public Architecture.
The first stage of the Adelaide Casino project was worth $21m and was completed in 1985, just nine months from the commencement of preliminary sketch drawings. It involved the conversion of the ground and first floors of the existing Adelaide Railway Station building into gaming areas, and the second floor into administration, kitchen and restaurant facilities. The building was heritage listed and had to remain operational during the redevelopment process, with trains continuing to serve the basement level.
There were 900 workers on the job to speed construction, which was delivered under a fast-track design-and-construct method. The design team remained on site throughout the construction period and at stages were documenting what had already been constructed.
Project Manager Tony Swan said “Maintaining approval of the State Heritage Branch, cost control during the extremely fast-track building process, achieving the extremely high quality finished demanded by the interior design team and maintaining weather protection to the floors below with large sectors of the roof removed during the winter months were some of the challenges faced by our construction team”. Tony said the job’s success relied on “an excellent team who worked extremely well together and who delivered a fantastic facility on time”. Following this successful first stage, the company completed another two stages worth $13m in 1990 and 1993, and then undertook a further upgrade in 2001 for $4.2m. The building was later sold to Sky City, which commissioned Hansen Yuncken to carry out further extensions to the facility worth $14m in 2005. During the company’s 20 year association with the project many of the key South Australian staff have been involved at some point, including Tony Swan, Kevin Anderson, Lawrie Hall, Riley Pursche, Tom Criaris, Fred Arias and Chris Wells.
The implementation by the Australian Government of the ‘Building the Education Revolution’ program in early 2009 provided a transformative opportunity for the company and the technology we utilise in the management of major projects. Significant school renewal projects valued at over $750m were secured extending across hundreds of sites, located from far north Queensland to southern Tasmania. The largest of these contracts was in South-West Sydney and covered 309 discrete projects at 203 schools. In response to this challenge, Hansen Yuncken developed a sophisticated tailor-made information management system which provided the real-time data needed to concurrently design and deliver on works of this scale and complexity, efficiently and within an extraordinarily tight program.
With four contracts totaling $360m for ING Real Estate, this was Hansen Yuncken’s largest project to date at that time in 2006. The Hassell Architects designed development included residential apartments and townhouses, and premium retail and commercial spaces that cover a 20-hectare site.
The 60,000m2 retail offering is split over tow open-plan levels with interconnecting bridges and walkways. It accommodates the Harbour Town flagship Brand Direct and 190 retail tenancies, including restaurants, cafes, entertainment venues, speciality shops and a diverse range of fashion, lifestyle and homewares outlets.
The $62m 10-storey building (including fitout) for Melbourne City Council, completed in August 2006, was Australia’s first 6-star Green Star rated office building. Its holistic green design works to reduce energy and water consumption and create a healthier environment for council’s 540 staff who occupy the offices.
The design by the City of Melbourne and Design Inc incorporates 10 dark-coloured air extraction ducts on the northern façade that absorb heat from the sun, helping stale air inside rise up and out of the building. The yellow ducts on the south façade draw in fresh air from the roof and distribute it down through the building. Recycled timber louvres on the west façade are powered by photovoltaic roof panels and move according to the sun’s position.
The building extracts about 100,000 litres of black (toilet) water a day from the sewer in Little Collins Street, and it, along with the sewage generated on-site, is processed by a multi-water treatment plant to filter water and send solids back to the sewer. The water is treated by a micro-filtration system to create A-grade clean water suitable for all non-drinking uses, such as water cooling, plant watering and toilet flushing.
Hansen Yuncken contributed significant innovation during this project to optimise the way ESD initiatives were selected and implemented. The project team also enhanced the commissioning and handover processes of complex commercial building services.
At the time of its completion in 2005, the $240m design and construct project was Hansen Yuncken’s largest, won through the company’s membership of a consortium that purchased the airport in 1998. Designed by Hassell Architects, the 75,000m2, two-level terminal building is 750m long and 110m wide, and has Australia’s first glass aerobridges.
Tony Swan described Adelaide Airport as a “watershed” for the company. He said “It demonstrated to the industry nationally that Hansen Yuncken was capable of undertaking and successfully completing major projects of significance”.
The success of this project led to opportunities in North Queensland, where Hansen Yuncken has completed the redevelopment of the Cairns Airport.