Edward Gordon (Ted) Freeman was born in Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, on 26 May 1926. His family duly migrated to Australia and settled in Melbourne, where Freeman attended Brighton Technical College before completing civil engineering studies at Melbourne Technical College (now RMIT). At the age of nineteen, he joined the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces and, in March 1947, took charge of military architecture in occupied areas.
By 1950, Freeman had settled in Japan, where he took over as manager of the Tokyo office of Jardine Matheson, a venerable British firm active in Asia since 1839. Originally engaged in trade, the firm had diversified into engineering in the 1920s, with significant presences in Shanghai and Hong Kong. By the time that Freeman took over its Tokyo office, Jardine Matheson was described as “one of the largest British firms in the Far East”. In his capacity as head of the firm’s architectural department, Freeman was responsible for a number of major projects including the New Zealand Legation in Tokyo (1953), a large hotel in Osaka, and several bank buildings.
a year of joining Jardine Matheson, Freeman received his official
governmental endorsement as an A-class Architect, qualified to
undertake major building projects. It was
widely reported (including in several Australian newspapers)
that the then 25-year-old was the youngest person to achieve this
disitnction in Japan, when no one under thirty had yet done so.
Freeman was to receive further press attention in his former country of
residence when, in May 1954, he attended the Fourth Australian
Architectural Convention in Sydney, described as “a leading architect
from Japan and a member of the Japanese Architects Association”.
In 1955, Freeman left Jardine Matheson to become general manager of another leading Tokyo construction firm, Kyokuto Sekkei KK (subtitled as “Far East Architects and Engineers”). On 17 August that year, he married Japanese-born Hurue Uda and the couple had two daughters, Jessica and Janette. Coinciding with his new position at Kyokuto Sekkei, Freeman sought to become registered as an architect in Victoria, presumably in anticipation of future projects being undertaken there. His application to the Architects Registration Board of Victoria (ARBV), received in late 1955, was referred to Rae Featherstone, who adjudicated that examination exemptions might be applicable, given that Freeman had engineering qualifications and was also officially recognised as an architect in Japan. However, the following year, Freeman's request to sit his examinations in Tokyo was rejected by the ARBV, so he never became registered as an architect in Victoria.
In any case, Freeman would hold his managerial position at Kyokuto Sekkei KK for two decades, during which time the firm was responsible for such projects as the new Tokyo Baptist Church (1958-59) and the CIBA pharmeacutical plant at Takarazuka (1960). While overseeing Kyokuto Sekkei, Freeman also acted as Far East Regional Director for several offshore engineering firms that had opened branches in Tokyo, including A-MP, Danfoss and Trim Associates. Freeman’s involvement with Trim Associates ultimately culminated in his departure from Japan in 1976 to head their office in Hawaii. Opting not to pursue any professional endorsement as an architect in the USA, Freeman described himself thereafter as a civil engineer.
Ted Freeman died in Honolulu on 13 December 2002, survivied by his wife and daughters.
Select List of Projects
Jardine Matheson (Tokyo)
Kyokuto Sekkei KK