Monash University

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Merchant Builders : from reform to receivership

posted on 2020-05-18, 23:38 authored by Anne Gartner
Inspired with a vision of reforming suburban housing, David Yrencken and John Ridge founded the company Merchant Builders in 1965. Unitl 1981 the company's built work made a significant contribution to the design of project and cluster housing. This was followed by a few years marked by loss of direction, then a decline into receivership. Before working on this thesis I had admired Merchant Builders' work from the sidelines as an interested observer. I especially remember a 1970 visit to Elliston, which demonstrated that suburban design could differ substantially from the sterotyped image of monotonous rows of tract housing. Later in a professional capacity as part of a Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) Victoria housing jury I was involved in assessing some of the company's innovative cluster housing. This thesis has provided me with an opportunity to review the development of Merchant Builders' work more formally, and unexpectly to help rescue the fragmented records of their operation, During my research on Merchant Builders the company moved from spacious headquarters in Bayswater, into recievership and out of receivership to new owner. It was finally sold to A. V. Jennings in 1991. This turbulent period saw the company's systematic record keeping disintegrate. The Bayswater office had housed a comprehensive, well organised central records room. Plans, documents, company minutes, brochures, and photographc material were hastily packed, and in some cases damaged, by the removalists during the provisional liquidation. [...]


Principal supervisor

Conrad Hamann

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre



Master of Arts

Degree Type



Faculty of Arts

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