Barcelona Brilliance or the Usual Sorry Silverleaf Style?

These four images show architects in Barcelona hard at work currently refurbishing a modernist building, the Casa Buros.

Architects from Barcelona visited Fremantle 10 years ago to show their plans for the Coles Woolstore building. The plans were too ambitious and council sent the architects packing. A few years later, architects from Barcelona visited Fremantle to put forward (less) ambitious plans for the Point Street site owned by council, but they were sent packing too.

Now, you have 24 hours to comment on plans for the Coles Woolstore site, not put forward by architects from Barcelona, but by Gerard O’Brien’s company Silverleaf.  We sent you the plans last week, with a report from planning expert Malcolm Mackay.

If you want brilliance for the brilliant little town of Fremantle you have 24 hours to ask for it.

Here is a summary of key points you can ask for:

a) No approval until Silverleaf have complied with plans passed for their Atwell Buildings.

b) Seek to have the 6 small shops in Queen Street removed and the design altered to give that north west corner opposite the railway station a strong, coherent and welcoming architectural feature.

Fremantle Society committee member and inaugural Chair of the Heritage Council Ian Molyneux points to the need to an overall strategic plan linking the railway station to the centre of town, instead of the ad hoc approvals being meted out time after time.

c) The overly dominant and horizontal band of glass of the office area of the new building is alien to and at odds with the Fremantle character.

d) The design of the entrance to the hotel and offices is clumsy, with nothing entrancing to the visitor.

e) The full height shop glazing is more akin to a car showroom along a busy highway than a traditional town centre setting with raised sills and indented openings.

f) Coles should provide a much higher quality supermarket in line with 21st century ones overseas.

Comments to: planning@fremantle.wa.gov.au

Also send to the mayor and councillors:  members@fremantle.wa.gov.au

If you see Gerard O’Brien around town measuring up the next site he is going to buy, ask him for a good building.

If you see the mayor, or your councillor, as them for a good building.

The mayor did comment on the Fremantle Society facebook site pointing to good readaptive work promoted by council by showing a picture of the highly successful Fort Knox woolstore development. What he failed to mention is that when the plans first came to Council, he voted against all the heritage reports and heritage experts and allowed the developer to have extra storeys on top which would have destroyed the saw tooth roof and the heritage integrity of the building. Thank goodness the developer didn’t have the money to build the extra storeys of penthouses there.

The Fremantle Society vision for Fremantle is for a quality environment that sustainably develops the high quality assets we have. Mediocre is not good enough. The “Let’s get on with it brigade” need Fremantle Society members pointing out what could and should be aimed for.

Please get on with your submission.

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