Communist East Berlin Apartment Block Arrives
The raft of damaging oversized buildings is underway in Fremantle with the arrival of the East Berlin Communist inspired “Liv” apartment block in Queen Victoria Street opposite the “Giant of Fremantle”, the former Fort Knox wool store (on the right of the picture), the largest wool store left in Fremantle.
To allow the “Giant of Fremantle” to be overshadowed by an apartment block next to it is appalling planning and decision making, a failure of councillors to grasp very basic fundamentals of urban planning.
The development suits the ideology of Fremantle Council, because the extensive number of low cost dwellers will largely be Labor voters.
Plans for the 26 shops of Manning Estate (High Street Mall and Market Street) go to council’s planning committee next Wednesday. The Fremantle Society submitted an extensive report to council and to you the members. Remember that meetings for the next few years will be held in the North Fremantle Town Hall.
The plans for the Mannings Buildings – to separate the top floor from the bottom floor, get rid of Norm Wrightson’s hairdressing shop for a brewery, NOT reinstate verandahs as proposed by council years ago, and destroy the backs of the buildings – are proposed by the same man who inflicted the awful Atwell Arcade development into the gold rush streetscapes and roofscapes of the city centre adjacent.
Note that no effort is being made to restore the former Majestic Theatre on this site.
Vale David Hutchison
Today at 10am the funeral for renowned Fremantle historian David Hutchison will be held. He died at the end of 2017, a terrible year for heritage in Fremantle, with the only bright spot being the restoration of the Town Hall eight years later than budgeted for. David wrote a book about the Town Hall, along with one on New Norcia, and Fremantle Walks, a comprehensive guide to the heritage of Fremantle. In Fremantle Walks he detailed the achievements of one City ward councillor Richard Rennie, who was a councillor from 1925 to 1936. While it seems some councillors do a lot of damage to heritage with their voting, Richard Rennie got out early in his career as a builder and was responsible for some of the finest buildings surviving today. David Hutchison detailed some of them – they include the former Tramways Building at 1 High Street, Owston’s Buildings, 9-19 High Street, the National Hotel, five of the goods sheds on Victoria Quay, Mannings Chambers, High Street Mall shops, including the Majestic Theatre, the former National Bank in High Street, and the Fremantle War Memorial.
David set up the Fremantle History Museum, which has now disappeared.
He taught this writer physics at Christ Church Grammar School, deflating the writer’s sole achievement after 8 years at the school – being holder of the record for the mile running race – by saying in class that Dowson had started at point A and traversed 440 yards of grass in a circular fashion four times, only to arrive back at the spot he had started from – thus achieving nothing.
Money please to :
BSB 633 000
PO Box 828 Fremantle
The Fremantle Society
Fremantle Society AGM, with some Art Deco
Come for a Christmas drink at 6.30 next Thursday 6.30pm at the Fremantle Tennis Club for the Fremantle Society AGM. Meet legendary Vyonne Geneve of the Art Deco Society.
Buy a copy of Vyonne’s Picture Palaces of the Golden West for $59.95 and receive a FREE copy of Fighting for Fremantle (the history of the Fremantle Society worth $35). Proceeds to the Fremantle Society and the National Trust.
Members – Please pay your membership NOW or at the AGM. We have asked three times already. We don’t have rows of volunteers manning desks and telephones to keep reminding people about the membership fees.
Our fees are too low and are not enough to cover the work we do commissioning expert reports and giving you glasses of wine.
Please consider a donation to help fund the work we do.
Local History Library Staff Cut
The Fremantle Society can reveal that Fremantle Council intend to cut the Local History staff in half.
Fremantle’s Local History Library, the best in the state, has been untouchable as the best local history department in the state, and untouchable as an important osurce of information for staff, councillors, developers, and the community. No mayor in history has dared allow the local history library to be pruned or nobbled.
The move of staff out of the administration building while it is demolished and replaced by an utterly unnecessary new $50 million new one, will allow for changes to be made to the number and composition of staff, to suit the ideology of the current council.
It is hoped members will support the Fremantle Sociey in its push for the Local History Centre to retain its two full time staff.
Next Wednesday Council Planning Agenda
Warders’ Cottages: Wednesday 6 December 6pm Fremantle Council planning committee will deal with the boutique hotel proposal and tavern for 475 people proposed for the 6 warders cottages in Henderson Street bought by the same people who run the Hougoumont Hotel, which extraordinarily sought and won permission for 5 storeys in the West End precinct where only 3 (plus possibly one extra storey set back) are allowed.
The proposal for 475 bar patrons seeks the building of two storey structures in the rear of the gardens CONTRARY TO THE CONSERVATION PLAN WHICH ONLY ALLOWS ESSENTIAL SINGLE STOREY WORKS. The plans have been ticked off by the Heritage Council, which is nothing more than a developers’ club nowadays. That is no reason for Fremantle Council to also ignore the sensitivity and importance of the rear gardens and the conservation plan.
The officers’ report fails to provide a heritage impact statement and assessment, and nowhere is there reference to the fact that the cottages, being of national importance, being nationally listed, and in the buffer zone of the World Heritage prison, need Federal approval.
This was the Fremantle Society submission, which is ignored in the officer’ report:
The Warders Cottages are convict built, rare, and of national importance. They are the only buildings in WA (outside the prison) that are significant enough to be on the Federal Government heritage list.
Unfortunately the main focus for this development is alcohol (475 patrons). As one conservation architect said: “Imagine Tasmania proposing hotels for the Port Arthur convict site?” The same architect wrote: “The real test should be a carefully researched and considered assessment based on the cultural values of the Convict Establishment as a place, the cottages as significant fabric in their own right, and the townscape qualities of that part of Fremantle.”
The proponent, who somehow was granted a 5 storey approval for the next stage of the Hougoumont Hotel in the West End, where only 4 storeys are permissible, will only buy these cottages if he gets the approvals he wants, so he can easily walk away if there is a refusal.
Just next door, the six Warders Cottages with verandahs have already been sold to private owners. Council policy on venues serving alcohol (DBU6) ‘does not support proposals which may encourage conflict betwen land uses’.
The boutique hotel proposal for the cottages has merit, because the cottages were residences for 150 years, and giving people access to such authentic places is laudable. But the plans show entry to the second floor via a second storey walkway. Yet the conservation plan (policy 171) clearly states that only: ‘small single storey structures may be acceptable in the rear yards if they are required for the amenity and practical functioning of the cottages.’
The rear gardens of all the Warders’ Cottages are an important part of their significance and magic, despite the brutal clearing of vegetation by the Heritage Council.
Fremantle Society Submission Comments:
SIGNIFICANCE: The Warders Cottages are the only buildings in Western Australia on the Federal Government heritage list besides the adjacent Fremantle Prison and are thus of supreme importance as rare convict built terrace houses over 150 years old. Council should ensure that the highest standards are applied to this application.
IMPACT OF PROPOSAL: The idea of a boutique hotel development for these cottages has merit as one way of maintaining their residential use. The cottages have over 150 years of use as private dwellings with their own private backyards, and a major part of the heritage significance of the place lies in the cottages with their conjoined backyards. The question is, how much impact does the current development proposal have on that heritage which was earned over a very long time?
The impact of an 11 room boutique hotel on the fabric of the main building is sensitively managed in many respects, and it is heartening to see the trees retained, though the apparent inability to use the existing staircases because of code compliance issues necessitates a rather clumsy and intrusive upper floor entry. Sightlines to and from the rear of these significant cottages are thus negatively affected.
FOCUS ON ALCOHOL: The applicant is seeking to do much more than just run a small boutique hotel – there is provision for serving alcohol to 475 people. This appears to be an overintensification of the site, however well managed. New owners of adjacent residential warders’ cottages are understandably concerned, and they have every right under current liquor laws to have their amenity and privacy protected.
The size of the proposal leads to a parking shortfall of over 122 car bays and 20 bicycle bays. The applicant argues that the temporary lift on requirement for cash in lieu to be paid in case of a parking shortfall was suspended until September 2014 and that technically it is still suspended and should stay that way because of all the nearby council controlled car parks. But, in recent years council has sold a significant number of its car parks and some have disappeared altogether. Also, a number of recent major development applications are, like this application, focussing on liquor sales, and it appears that Fremantle is heading down the path of becoming less of a place to live, work, and recreate, and more of a “Northbridge by the Sea.”
RECOMMENDATIONS: The Fremantle Society believes:
a) the intensity of this proposal in terms of patron numbers if excessive and should be scaled back.
b) this intensity adds too many new physical elements to this significant site and they should be scaled back.
c) Council should consider reintroducing cash in lieu payments in order to facilitate provision of parking nearby.
d) The applicant’s plans show 5 car bays in Henderson Street earmarked for the hotel. If council is going to hand those car bays over to the hotel, a fee, the equivalent of lost parking revenue, should be charged.
e) The applicant’s report acknowledges the hugely significant vistas in adjacent streets, and thus in William Street, the totally incongruous hotel awning proposed that juts out into William Street should be deleted.
f) The proposed new blank wall facing William Street should be reduced in impact.
g) The proposed art works for the 1% for art scheme are for a light show highlighting the building. While this sounds like an advertising campaign to promote the hotel, it has merit compared with the dismal outcomes at other new development sites around Fremantle under the same scheme.
h) The important original lettering on this building carved into the facade (VR) is bisected by the installation of a downpipe, and this issue should be addressed.
i) Any aerials, lift overruns, or plant installation should be strictly conditioned to be not visible from surrounding streets.
The controversial liquor outlet at J shed for up to 400 patrons is on the agenda again for Wednesday, with a recommendation for refusal. The applicant’s submission for this liquor application begins with a laughable graphic showing 14 people enjoying the site without a glass of liquid visible, though there is a single bottle sitting on one table. There are also some children playing with an environmentally unacceptable plastic balloon in this marine related area.
The Fremantle Society Submission on Manning Buildings 135 High Street
(Members who want a full copy of the report with illustrations and maps can send $12 to The Fremantle Society PO Box 828 Fremantle 6160. The $12 covers the printing, binding, and postage of the report. Alternatively, contact President John Dowson at email@example.com for a colour pdf by email free of charge) .
The proposal for the Mannings Buildings at 135 High Street in the Mall seeks partial demolition of the Mannings Buildings, the separation of first and second floors, which have been united for over 100 years, the removal of all existing staircases, works to shopfronts and awnings, removal of various existing walls, and provision of a 1500 sqm brewery.
This is a once in a generation opportunity to revitalise a critically important central city building and in particular to make better use of the underutilised upper storey. This opportunity to get an excellent outcome must not be missed.
Unfortunately, the proposal is brutal in its treatment of heritage elements such as the rear structures, dismissive of the social history of shops like Norm Wrightsons’ Hairdresser, whose business has existed in the same shop since 1933, silent on the 1995 council recommended reinstatement of original verandahs, and does not seek to restore and reuse the former existing Majestic Theatre still in existence there.
This is a major development of a level 1b building, designated as being of ‘exceptional significance’ to the city. Under council’s town planning scheme, nothing of heritage significance can be allowed to be demolished. A very detailed and careful assessment of this proposal is essential to prevent any loss of original heritage fabric.
The Fremantle Society believes this project should deliver a carefully refurbished heritage building where internal and external heritage elements are respected and kept, where the original verandahs and shopfronts are reinstated, and where important social history like Norm Wrightson’s is celebrated and encouraged to continue in its current location.
The Manning Buildings
Designed by renowned architects Cavanagh and Cavanagh in 1902 in Federation Free Classical style, the collective group of buildings make a bold, confident, and significant contribution to the streetscape. The three shops in William Street (7, 9, and 11) were constructed earlier and had a two storeyed open verandah, rare in Fremantle (see next page). The Majestic Theatre was not opened until 1916 and closed in 1938, becoming the location of the first Coles to operate outside the Perth CBD, The buildings have housed many and varied tenants over the years, including the famous photographers Izzy Orloff and Charles Nixon.
It is unfortunate that the original verandahs were removed in the 1950s as with many Fremantle properties and that the original shopfronts in most cases have been unattractively altered.
However, the building is listed as being overall of ‘exceptional significance’ to Fremantle and there are many individual original elements remaining on the facade, at the rear, and inside some of the shops.
Given the recent highly controversial Atwell Arcade development by the same developer (Silverleaf’s Gerard O’Brien) just 10 metres from this proposal, extreme caution and care should be taken with this development to ensure that mistakes made there are not repeated here.
One Fremantle architect described the completed Atwell Project as ‘such a tragedy’ with ‘a gigantic loss of original fabric’. The damage to the world famous gold rush roofscapes of Fremantle with the new glass office block, the alterations to the arcade, the lack of restoration of verandahs and shopfronts, the failure to complete the building as approved, and the failure to complete restoration as promised, are clear warnings.
1) Restoration of verandahs
The developer is not proposing to restore the verandahs of the shops, as he should, yet council spent several years between 1994 and 1999 discussing the issue, and paying for plans to be drawn up with all the detail necessary to encourage the Manning Estate. The detailed plans and files are in the council archives.
As one architect stated: ‘The Mannings Buildings are naked without their verandahs and awnings.’ In particular, the double storeyed verandah originally on 7-9 William Street as shown below, should be reinstated.
2) Norm Wightson’s – Important Social History
Plans submitted show the relocation of this business to Market Street, and the demolition of much of the shop, to facilitate a brewery.
The tenant does not want to relocate. There is enormous social history with this business having being been there since 1933. Only Warren’s Menswear is an older business (1931) in the Manning Buildings, but they are not been asked to relocate and their shop is not being demolished.
The developer wishes to make this shop, which is directly opposite the entrance to the town hall, the entry to his brewery. Such proximity to the town’s most important civic building is an inappropriate location for such a business. The shop should stay.
The social history of the various shops in the Manning Buildings is highly significant and should form part of the assessment to ensure that any relevant significant fabric is preserved and the story of those businesses told. Such story telling would add significantly to the marketing advantage of the refurbished premises. For example, Swansea Cycles and Motor Co factory was originally at 9 William Street adjacent to Norm Wrightson’s and significant original fabric may still exist at the rear (see image below). Given the current interest in cycling, this heritage is relevant today.
As the WA Historical Cycle Club notes: They started business at 9 William Street, Fremantle, with a small annex at the rear of the shop where they began making their own bicycles using components imported from England
In the first year of trading Swansea made and sold all of 70 cycles. The great Wall Street crash of 1929, followed by the disastrous Depression years actually helped Swansea Cycles, as many people found bikes a great means ofcheap transport that was healthy as well By 1939 Swansea Cycles had expanded to larger factory premises in Newman Street Fremantle, with 5000 square feet of floor space, a staff of 33, and a turnover of more than 1500 cycles a year, as well as trotting spiders and children’s tricycles. There were also branches at Barrack Street, Perth and in Kalgoorlie and Bunbury, with agents throughout the state. 1939 saw the introduction of the top end 4 and 5 Swan models.
3) Facade Works and Shopfronts
a) Shopfronts: Most of the existing shopfronts have been altered and do not match the significant heritage values of the rest of the building above. This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a high quality shopping environment that will be an attractor for the businesses with distinctive high quality shop fronts which match the heritage values above by recreating the original shopfront configurations.
Some shops currently have roller shutters, which should not be permitted because of the detrimental effect on both the building and the street scene.
In terms of security it should be remembered that smaller paned glass, transoms, mullions and stallrisers are more difficult to break into than large areas of glazing as recently installed by this developer nearby at the Atwell Arcade buildings. They are also cheaper to repair.
b) Cinema Facade: The developer proposes to ‘tuck paint’ the former cinema’s facade on High Street. The paint should be stripped and a proper tuck pointing restoration carried out.
c) Electronic Security: all security systems should form an integral part of the design and be located unobtrusively in order not to interfere with any architectural detail.
d) Lighting: Internally illuminated letters or fascias can conflict with the design of historic shopfronts, are
incongruous in heritage areas and must be resisted by council. Full details of the fitting, method of fixing and
luminance should be provided by the applicant. Moving signage, as currently existing on one Manning Building shop (tobacco shop) is not allowed under council bylaws.
e) Materials: Traditional materials should be used. Timber is appropriate as is wrought and cast iron.
f) Corporate colours and styles: Corporate housestyles can seek to have shopfronts and advertisements inappropriate for historic buildings, and may have to be adapted to fit in with the age and character of the building.
g) Original detail: Where possible, original detail should be preserved. The photos below show how the original pediments on the left of the Manning Buildings have been covered over and need to be revealed again.
4) Significant Value of the rear of Mannings Buildings
The developer proposes drastic changes to the rear of the shops, including demolition of significant heritage fabric.
The rear elements of heritage buildings are undervalued, but often have highly significant heritage values with useable and interesting spaces.
Melbourne is world famous through its laneway projects and the rear of the Manning Buildings provide an unusually open and accessible urban space that should be utilised and appreciated, while preserving significant heritage features. Paddy Troy mall is in effect a public street and the streetscape values of this area, especially being unusually so open for an inner city location, should be respected, enhanced, and should form an integral part of any proposed development. In particular, significant heritage features should not be obscured by new works.
This is a rare opportunity to create a unique and authentic inner city urban space that would be of great interest, and a high value commercial attractor.
The Fremantle Society
28 November 2017
Click below to download the Society’s submission.
About to be Destroyed
Norm Wrightsons Hairdressers has been at 7 William Street since 1933. Prior to that the shop was home to the famous Charles Nixon photographer from 1894 to 1933. Two businesses in 120 years!
Gerard O’Brien wants to relocate the hairdresser. The hairdresser doesn’t want to go. O’Brien wants this as the entry to his new brewery and wants to strip out the shops here and demolish the rear of all the shops.
He has allowed the rear of these heritage buildings to be painted without permission of the tenants to mask the heritage values of what remains.
Look at the single storied building with the very interesting air vent – probably part of the former Swansea Bicycle factory.
Save the Magic!
The hairdressers shop is unique. It is magic. It and nos 9 and 11 William should stay. AND it should have the double storey verandah on it restored as shown above when it was home to Fremantle’s famous photographer Nixon until Wrightsons moved in in 1933..
The development proposal covers all the Manning Estate shops that begin with these three shops in William Street (built in 1886 before the others) and continue through the Mall and down Market Street to the Newport Hotel.
The Fremantle Society is keen to see people spend money in Fremantle restoring and upgrading their properties but this developer wants to make major changes to the shops – knocking down the rear sections of all the shops (some of which have significant heritage), remove various staircases, insert a large brewery where Norm Wrightson’s is right outside the entrance to the Town Hall, and separate the second floor sections of the various shops from their ground floor sections.
Submissions due on the whole Manning Buildings development on Tuesday 28th at 5pm..
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
And, to all councillors at: email@example.com
Coles Woolstore development – please make a submission today however brief
The photo above top shows Fremantle when Frank Hurley flew over it at the time the Coles woolstore was still in place and before council allowed it to be demolished in 1986.
Comment closes today on a major development application for this site, seeking 38.9 metres height, higher than anything else in the town.
Please make a submission, however brief to: planning @fremantle.wa.gov.au
This is a once in a generation chance to redevelop a run down site well. What happens here will influence surrounding development sites.
Below is the submission by Ken Adam, award winning architect and head of CityVision, which you are free to use if you like.
WOOLSTORES CENTRE: PROPOSED MAJOR REDEVELOPMENT, CANTONMENT STREET, FREMANTLE
SUBMISSIONS & COMMENTARY prepared by KEN ADAM LFAIA, LFPIA, LFAIUS
If the application were approved, in my opinion the game, for the future of Fremantle, will have been lost, and the detail hardly matters.
This document is in two parts. The first part comprises a set of succinct submissions in relation to the proposed development. The second comprises support and justification for those submissions.
These submissions and commentary represent solely the professional assessments and opinions of Ken Adam. They have been prepared both personally and for the Fremantle Society, for submission to the City of Fremantle and the Joint Development Assessment Panel charged with considering the proposed development on its merits.
PART ONE: SUMMARY SUBMISSIONS
The comprehensive redevelopment of the Woolstores Centre site is extremely welcome as an important contribution to the future of Fremantle.
In general the mix of uses proposed for the site is appropriate.
The most important benchmark for the height, scale and massing of the development is set by the adjoining Woolstores building and, to a lesser extent, the newer building at the SE corner of Cantonment and Queen Streets.
The appropriate benchmark for the height of the development is the level set by the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, and that level should best be maintained consistently over the whole site. No protrusions above this level, other than minor necessary protrusions, should be accepted. It is accepted that the 21m height limit approximates this level.
This level should not be exceeded, even were the architectural design to be judged “distinctive” and of “exceptional design quality” or representing “excellence” in design. Even at the highest level of design quality any extensions of the kind proposed, above this level, visible from the public realm, would not be acceptable.
Regardless of any other considerations, it is my professional opinion, based on a lifetime experience of architecture, urban design and planning, that the proposed development, while unquestionably of an acceptable design standard, falls well short of either distinction or exceptional design quality.
For the reasons given here, it is my professional opinion that the development application should be refused.
The appropriate benchmark for the height of the development is the level set by the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, and that level should best be maintained consistently over the whole site.
PART TWO: JUSTIFICATION AND SUPPORTING COMMENT
Ken Adam is an architect (retired), planning consultant and urban designer. He has directed a practice in those disciplines since 1974. He is a recipient of the prestigious Architects Board Award. Prior to private practice he had headed the Urban Design Section of the Town Planning Department. He was a founding member of CityVision in 1987 and has been Chairman since 2001. He has taught urban design at Curtin University.
Ken Adam has acted regularly as an expert witness in the Supreme Court and the State Administrative Tribunal and its predecessors, in relation to matters of architecture, urban design and planning, for both private clients and local government authorities.
He is a fourth-generation Fremantle person, and lives in North Fremantle. He is a member of the Fremantle Society. He was the consultant responsible for the most comprehensive study of Fremantle, carried out in 1979-80 for the purposes of establishing a comprehensive strategy for the City and the preparation of TPS3.
This submission is necessarily brief and does not pretend to be fully comprehensive. It focuses on the major urban design issues of scale, form and character of the proposed development, in relation to its surroundings and the city centre as a whole. It should not be read as necessarily agreeing with those aspects of the proposed development not specifically covered here.
In preparing this document I have studied the report and drawings accompanying the application and held brief discussions with the officers responsible for reporting on the application. I have revisited the site and its surroundings. I have not had access to the applicant’s Design Report (Appendix A to the applicant’s report).
This document tries to go to the heart of what really matters for the future of Fremantle. It is not just a simplistic exercise in checking whether all the boxes have been ticked.
Total Redevelopment of the Site is Welcome and offers a Great Opportunity
It should be clear that, in my opinion, a total redevelopment of the site is not merely welcome; it is well overdue. The replacement of the original woolstores building by the existing banal shopping centre, car parking and open servicing areas was, in urban design and other terms, a complete and unrelieved disaster. The decision to redevelop the entire site offers a wonderful opportunity to undo that mistake and create a very positive development that will serve and greatly enhance the city centre. The opportunity must not be missed, nor should it in any way be compromised by confusing what may be permitted with what is best for Fremantle
The issues dealt with here are:
- whether the general character, including proposed use , scale and form, is appropriate;
- whether the building heights proposed are appropriate and whether the development meets the criteria for design excellence; and
- whether the more detailed architectural design aspects are appropriate.
Context is Everything
The site occupies a pivotal position in the city’s townscape and activities, mediating between the major woolstore buildings (now converting, appropriately, to residential use) and the central business (essentially retail, entertainment and office) district.
Both the uses and character of development proposed for the subject site must recognise this pivotal position.
There are two buildings that, in my opinion, set the benchmark for the height and scale of what should occur on the site. These are: firstly and most critically, the superb Goldsborough Mort and Company Woolstores building immediately north of the site, which, like the subject site, spans between Cantonment Street and Elder Place and extends for a long distance along Cantonment Street and Elder Place. The second is the relatively recent and modern building on the SE corner of Queen and Goldsborough Streets. Whatever happens on the site must recognise both the scale and character of these two buildings.
None of the other adjacent sites – the obsolete Point Street car parking building and the tired shops on the east side of Cantonment Street and the Wilson’s Car Park on Queen Street – is determinant of what should occur on the subject site, but what is built on the site will inevitably influence their future development.
General Character and Form of the Development
It seems to me that a mixed use development of the site is most appropriate, because the site does mediate between the essentially business and essentially residential precincts of the city.
For that reason, I support, in general terms, the mix proposed, including the replacement of the major supermarket, market hall, offices, significant active-frontage retail and other uses and housing for both active young adults and predominantly retired people.
Provision of active uses at the street frontages of Cantonment and Queen Streets is especially important, and supported. Goldsborough Street, currently a pedestrian desert, also offers the opportunity to become an active and very attractive street in future, especially with a future re-use of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstore building.
In general terms the most appropriate precedents for the overall scale and form of the redevelopment of this pivotal site lie with the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building and in the memory of the site, itself a former wool store building of similar scale and mass to the Goldsborough Mort building and the other woolstores along Elder Place and Beach Street – the so-called “March of the Giants”. These suggest a strong, perhaps even monolithic, well-defined mass. The proposed development largely achieves this, were it not for the superimposition of the two tower elements, one at either end, and the excessive size of gaps in the facades, compromising the continuity of the facades.
The unusually large size of the site also strongly suggests the provision of at least one public pedestrian accessway through the site, in line with either the Westgate Mall entry, as proposed, or Point Street, or both. This access way, however, should be completely permeable at ground level, ie it should provide a clear view through between Cantonment Street and Elder Place.
Building Height and Design Excellence
In my opinion the most beneficial height for development over the site would be set precisely at the level of the very fine Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, creating a beautifully proportioned streetscape in Goldsborough Street. This level would appear to be close to the level that would generally result from the 21m height limit.
At the southern end of the site a benchmark, but not such a precise one, is set by the building on the SE corner of Queen and Cantonment Streets. This building, of four tall storeys, may be a little short of the 21m mark, but development to the 21m level on the subject site would produce an acceptable outcome. The discrepancy would not be material.
Further to that, in my opinion the buildings on the site should maintain a consistent level, as the adjacent Woolstores building does.
The key issue is whether the additional heights proposed at the north and south ends of the development would be acceptable. This should be looked at from both a straightforwardly urban design perspective and from the more legalistic perspective of compliance with the provisions of the planning scheme.
From an urban design perspective the most desirable streetscape outcome is unquestionably to maintain a consistent building height/level based on the level of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building. The 21m height level appears to be a good approximation of this. No extension of height above this visible from the adjacent streets would improve the appearance of the building.
Even one additional floor would be detrimental. It is instructive, in this regard, to consider the outcome of a single additional floor, set back from the facade, on the Marilyn New building at the northern end of Cantonment Street, at and adjacent to Parry Street. The extra floor is both highly visible and destroys the otherwise clean lines of the facades. Go and look at it.
The two proposed blocks of additional height, one at each end of the development, almost doubling the height of the development at those places, create an awkwardly balanced and poorly proportioned architectural composition. Despite the (relatively minor) setting back of these blocks, and the conscious facade design effort to distinguish them from the main building mass (the so-called podium/floating tower effect) they remain simply obtrusive elements. Far from being a beneficial element, as claimed by the applicant’s report, they are significantly detrimental to the urban design outcome. That’s from a purely urban design perspective.
From the perspective of compliance with the provisions of the town planning scheme and other instruments, my conclusion is no different. In order to gain approval for the additional height it is necessary for the applicant to demonstrate that the outcome would represent “Distinctive Architectural Design and Exceptional Design Quality”. The architectural design of the complex as a whole, and of the additional floors, is competent, but no more so than must be expected of any architect. Architects are rightly expected, at the very least, to produce buildings that not only function well, are solid and don’t leak, respectful of their neighbours and compliant with the rules, but also are visually attractive and fitting to their setting. That is as a minimum. “Good”, even “High” quality design is expected of all buildings, especially those designed by architects.
“Distinctive” and “Exceptional Design Quality”, by definition, are terms that cannot be applied to any but a relative handful of buildings. It is frequently claimed that the practical application of those terms is (merely) a matter of subjective opinion, and one opinion is as good as another. That is not so. As in all fields requiring the exercise of judgement it is a matter of professional/expert opinion, based upon professional knowledge and experience. That is why the Council has an (expert) Design Advisory Committee. And that is why my opinion has been sought.
It is rare, and difficult, for a development such as this that is driven, quite properly and essentially, by financial imperatives, to achieve distinction (positive or otherwise) and exceptional design quality or design excellence. To gain some idea of what is required to reach these heights, one needs to look at examples of highly regarded contemporary buildings, notably those that have achieved awards of excellence. In the City of Perth Council House and the new City Library come to mind, as do 40 William Street and the Central Park development. In Fremantle perhaps the proposed Kings Square redevelopment might meet the test. Could anyone seriously argue that the proposed Woolstores redevelopment would stand proudly alongside these?
Competent and attractive as the proposed development may be claimed to be it is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality”, and hence does not pass the bar for the additional height concession.
Detailed Architectural Design
Had time permitted, I would have prepared comments on some of the more detailed aspects of the architectural design, including the materials and articulation of the facades, the treatment of the corners, the entry points into the development, and so on. However, I have necessarily focussed on the critical issues of the height and form of the development.
In a sense the detailed architectural and design treatment can wait: in my opinion the application should be refused, for the reasons given. If the application were approved in my opinion the game, for the future of Fremantle, will have been lost, and the detail hardly matters.
it is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality”, and hence does not pass the bar for the additional height concession.
Ken Adam 22 November 2017
Fremantle Society Nomination Form: Closes Today
The Fremantle Society Incorporated
Nomination Form 2017-2018
Office Bearers and Committee
Members are invited to nominate as Office Bearers and Committee Members.
The Positions being : President, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, and to nine
The Committer will take office from the conclusion of the
Annual General Meeting to be held on Thursday 7th December 2017 at 6.30 at Fremantle Tennis Club
Only financial members are eligible to make and second nominations and to be nominated.
Financial membership requires that the annual subscription be paid prior to the AGM
I (print name)………………………………………………………………………………….
Nominate (print name of member being nominated)………………………………………
For the position of: President/treasurer/Secretary/Committee
Signature of Nominator………………………………………………………………………
I, (Name of Seconder)………………………………………………………………………..
Signature of Seconder………………………………………………………………………..
Am pleased to second the nomination detailed above
I (member being nominated) consent to the nomination as detailed above
Signature of member being nominated……………………………………………………..
Completed nomination forms must be received by
Wednesday 22 November 2017
Please post or email form to:
Fremantle Society Inc, POB 828, Fremantle 6959
or email to firstname.lastname@example.org