Architect – Don Zivkovic a Hilton Boy

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 11.20.20 pm copyThe Fremantle Society is pleased to announce that a top New York architect has agreed to address the Society later this year. Don Zivkovic, an award winning architect from Manhattan, is originally from Hilton, or Hilton Park as he rightly calls it. One of Don’s recent projects (above right), a classic style apartment building in Manhattan, won major awards and was determined to be one of the best buildings built in Manhattan over the past 50 years.

Don will help us pursue quality architecture in Fremantle, blighted as we are by mediocrity in almost every recent building constructed here.

John Dowson

Architect – Don Zivkovic writes:
John … thanks for your email. Always great to hear from home.

And yes, indeed … my brother and I grew up in Hilton Park before it was of historic architectural significance, attending South Fremantle and John Curtin high schools and finally UWA, before heading east and eventually overseas. We were regulars at Fremantle Oval in the days of Hassa Mann and the Riolis and Mal Brown … and are ardent Dockers fans now. So … from the distinctive regionalism of the Round House and High St, to the café-life and restaurants of South Terrace, and on to the sands of South Beach … Freo’s still with us both in many ways.

I’ve heard some about your society over the years and have admired the efforts in helping to protect our town’s integrity. I’m well aware of the toll it can take, from my own professional work in Sydney and New York. But all the same, every time I step foot in Fremantle again, I marvel at what a wonderful place it really has become.

In any case, I do expect to be back home later in the year and would be delighted to meet with you, as well. I’ll be in touch when my schedule’s set.

And in the meantime, in response to your request, I’ve attached a couple things which may be of some interest … a profile of our residential work and just a sample of the more public architecture that has been coming our way, in recent years … while below, too, is a “Must-see list of NYC’s newest important architecture”, which includes our Carhart Mansion apartment-house (in red font), the building that has been called one of the city’s best, in a long time … to which you refer. (A street view of it, by the way, is shown in the attached profile).

I look forward, otherwise, to an extended chat about things Fremantle with you, at some point soon.


Fremantle Society Submission on Proposed Demolition of 75 High Street, Fremantle (updated 25 March with new information)

The Fremantle Society opposes the current application for demolition of 75 High Street on the following grounds:

a) 75 High Street was assessed as having considerable heritage significance by council officers in 2011 and proposed for listing in September 2011 as a level 2 building on the MHI and the Heritage List. That listing did not proceed because Cr Sullivan successfully moved an amendment that had the listing deferred to the next heritage list review.

Despite the fact that the owner did not support heritage listing as the building ‘has undergone alterations and will prevent future development,’ officers indicated the heritage assessment determined that past alterations ‘have been compatible to the exceptional heritage value of the place’ and that ‘future development was not relevant to the MHI review and could be addressed during the planning application process.’

The Fremantle Society is not aware of the results of any subsequent MHI review but agrees with the original assessment that the place, despite its altered form, has exceptional and significant elements. This was backed up by an internal and external assessment by the Fremantle Society itself.

The building was apparently constructed in the late 1920s and replaced a more ornate building. The site has been a prominent and central location of tailoring and clothing businesses for many years. Jenkins and Co who traded from the 1920s building were there until 1943. Walsh’s Menswear followed, and by the 1970s Archie Martin Vox had moved in with electrical goods and further altered the building. For a few years after the war in the late 1940s the Liberal Party had offices there and upstairs was rented accommodation, which housed at one time notable Fremantle people like artist Marcus Beilby.

While the downstairs internal space seems largely devoid of heritage character, upstairs with its timber ceiling and timber floors could be retrofitted and restored despite years of neglect and severe alterations to the building post WW2 circa 1946.

b) Regardless of 2015 government directives relating to demolition applications for non heritage listed properties, this property sits in the West End Conservation Area and the policy should be used to determine any future changes to the property. A committed owner would seek to restore some of the lost features such as the verandah and the original shopfront. A new building in this location would be problematic given the mediocre quality and inppropriate scale and materials of almost all recent new construction in the West End area. Inspiration for restoration of this property should come from the work Sean Butler did with the National Hotel nearby after the devastating fire which all but destroyed the interior and weakened the exterior. 75 High Street as it is sits discreetly in the streetscape, has classical form and does not dominate its neighbours. Any replacement building should not disrupt the harmonious line of historic buildings in what is arguably the most important retail section of the West End area.

c) At the very least a detailed heritage assessment of the property should be carried out by council which includes assessment of archaeological remains from previous buildings on the site.

d) There should be no contemplation of a demolition without replacement plans being submitted and assessed. There is no excuse for this not happening as the owner is an architect who has stated that he wants to improve Fremantle.

e) If a demolition approval is contemplated for this property it should be guided by the West End Conservation Area Policy requirements, an understanding of the exceptional significance of this area of the West End particularly in terms of harmony and scale, and an understanding of the predominant form of construction in this part of the West End, where buildings go DOWN from the streetscape elevations generally of one, two, or three storeys, not UP at the rear as the owner apparently intends.

John Dowson, President, The Fremantle Society
20 March, 2016.

75 High Street - Historic West End, Fremantle (photo by Freo Stuff)
75 High Street – Historic West End, Fremantle
(photo by Freo Stuff)

Why the Negativity from Council?

It has been interesting to read various public responses to Fremantle Society’s attempt to promote nomination of a larger area of Fremantle for State Heritage listing than what is currently proposed. From the derogatory and personal attacks of Roel Loopers, through Cr Coggin misinterpretation of John Dowson’s intentions, to the Mayor’s misreading of the initiative as an attack on the City of Fremantle and/or Heritage Office.

What an extraordinary waste of good will and resources! In a situation where the both ‘camps’ share the same objective: the due recognition of Fremantle’s heritage. And in light of one of its strongest manifestations: an active, passionate and involved community group representing Fremantle’s as a social capital i.e. one of the legitimate heritage values of the city – concerned members of the community volunteering its free time for what they believe would benefit the city. The proposed state heritage listing for the historic area of Fremantle could have been used as an incredible opportunity to discuss, unite, and combine forces. After all, appreciation of the city’s heritage is not an exclusive right of politicians or bureaucrats. It has taken a long time for culture of heritage appreciation to mature in Fremantle, and the nomination itself has also taken the City of Fremantle a number of years to initiate and prepare. The opportunity to legally sanctify an area of Fremantle as a unique, intact, high quality, historic and significant to State of Western Australia, doesn’t happen often. So it’s important to get it right the first time. Instead of spite, the Mayor and the Council could show a generosity of spirit and good will, they have been claiming they are motivated by, and take the Society’s proposal into consideration. To discuss support and, ideally arrive at a consolatory rather than divisive decision.

So what the argument is about?

1. Despite plenty of statutory evidence to the contrary, the City of Fremantle chose and negotiated with WA Heritage Office nomination of a fragment of the historic centre of Fremantle for state heritage listing, the area commonly referred to as the west end;

2. In accordance with the well-researched and documented evidence, Fremantle Society is advocating nomination of the larger area, which includes Town Hall, Railway Station, Fremantle Markets and Arthur Head.

Fremantle Society’s action to call public meeting in order to seek its members comment on the Executive Committee’s proposal is a legitimate part of the nomination process, since Heritage Office is obliged to consult with the community and seek feedback on the proposed nomination early on in the process. In this light Cr Coggin’s public argument (Fremantle Herald 22/2/16) that John Dowson is ‘whinging about Fremantle’s achievements in maintaining and boosting our unique built heritage’ is, at the very least, grossly misinformed. While Steve Grant’s article (Fremantle Herald 22/2/16) appears bogged down by the personal assertions and commentary by other sources, because surprisingly, the Herald didn’t even bother to turn up at the Fremantle Society’s meeting to provide its own and accurate account of an important community debate.

There is no surprise that heritage is highly contestable area, all various shades of grey. Heritage is no mathematical science, so whoever is expressing an opinion could be right. This is why the State Heritage nomination process specifies undertaking a rigorous and comprehensive heritage study that identifies heritage values of an area as objectively as possible. The documentary evidence required by the State Government is a critical first step of the nomination process and, ultimately, form the most objective basis for the final judgment regarding boundaries of the area. In 2011, when the City of Fremantle initiated the nomination process, it formed the community-based group to oversee it and had commissioned an expert to research, evaluate and define the area’s significance as prescribed by Heritage Office. The report produced the required evidence and arrived at a comprehensive statement of significance for the larger area’s boundaries, making sure that heritage of Fremantle is well assessed, considered and argued. In this respect it is the Fremantle Society’s support for nominating the expert recommended larger area that complies with the State Heritage statutory requirements, while the City’s and Heritage Office’s does not. To date neither the Council nor Heritage Office offered any comparable and compelling expert evaluation to support their nomination of the reduced area.

Mr Mayor’s published argument that the west end is the most intact and legible example of gold rush architecture might represent his personal view, but it’s not backed up by the evidence. The same aesthetic value applies equally strongly to the larger area proposed by Fremantle Society. In addition and as the official entry on the State Heritage register demonstrates, there are proportionally as many individually listed gold rush buildings in the west end as is in the proposed larger area. And, adversely and proportionally, in both areas are comparable number of the not-gold-rush infill buildings. Yet the larger area not only offers to list the whole historic centre. It would provide a transition zone around the west end to protect its integrity while the reduced area offers no such transition. So nominating the Fremantle Society’s larger area provides much solid rationale for a prudent conservation master planning in addition and as a next step to heritage recognition.

To include the larger area on the State Register would form a base for translating heritage listing into the planning standards and controls in the listed area, providing framework for development PRIOR to development taking place. It would give the City of Fremantle opportunities to seek heritage funding, making heritage agreements, ensuring harmony of new development within and around the listed area, including curtilage, landscaping and public spaces PRIOR to development submissions and with a main objective to ensure public benefits. The current, much more generic LPS4 zoning and height control offer no such prudent mechanism as it has no design process to inform the outcome at any scale prior to development taking place. Instead it provides framework for the developers’ lead growth of the city immediately adjacent to the heritage area. The only opportunity for the City and the State to intervene is to slightly moderate aspects of the proposed development AFTER a developer has submitted a proposal. It is this part of the planning process that currently generates so much uncertainty, thus conflict, between the developers, authorities and community. So it is the Fremantle Society’s proposal that is about ensuring good heritage outcome, not the City’s and Heritage Office. Therefore the City’s push for a smaller area begs the question what motivates the Council and Heritage Office to fight the community and insist on the fragmented nomination instead of embracing it.

Significance of an area is primarily about historic values. Streetscape values are an important aspect of it, but not constitute full weight of the area’s significance So it’s not about just the collection of gold rush buildings looking pretty, but about the historic town centre, including the street network, Kings Square, and the city’s symbol and landmark, Town Hall. The Land and Environment Court of NSW involves a number of cases where the precedence of an area significance based on its historic rather than solely aesthetic values was fought and won by local governments.

The WA prevailing culture propagates the view that heritage stands in a way of development. The developers’ lead development, to be precise. Yet heritage decisions don’t belong solely to Elected Members. In this respect the community, Council staff, the Minister for Planning, STAT, even the developers make heritage decisions. The latter mainly by looking for the loopholes, lobbying and sometimes winning on appeals, if only in the statistical 1% of cases. So in light of the conflicting perception of values, it is even more important to be flexible and generous rather than autocratic. It is important to ensure that the procedural fairness and transparency forms basis for the final decision regarding deciding boundaries of an area. Planning system and the government should serve public interest. Contrary to Roel Loopers’s bitter assertion, what Dr Carmen Lawrence advocated in her presentation was the many reasons for celebrating shared heritage. Especially where there is an opportunity to stand by the community and its values. Come on Mr Mayor and the Elected Members – as the decision makers serving your own community, and in the interest of public benefit, consider being conciliatory, inclusive, generous, flexible and supportive in recognising our shared heritage instead of ‘fighting’ your own community for, what appears to be politically motivated, if not frivolous, reasons.

Agnieshka Kiera

Ma Arch AICOMOS member of CIVVIH + ICTC
24. Feb. 16

(former Fremantle Council heritage architect for 25 years)
Proposed boundary of Fremantle West End Conservation Area (ANOTA


Victoria Hall located on High Street, Fremantle designed by Talbot Hobbs was built between 1896 and 1897 as St John’s Parish Hall and renamed for the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. It was opened by Governor Smith and his wife on 28 September 1897. After the Second World War, Bob Wrightson leased the hall for use as a dance studio; some years later he bought it. Victoria Hall, one of few gold-rush buildings remaining in the east end of High Street, sits in a predominantly 1960s streetscape. In 1974 a plan to widen High Street meant that Victoria Hall would be demolished, but a green ban put in place by the Builders Labourers Federation prevented this from happening. Wrightson still owned the building at this time. The building is listed on the Register of the National Estate. (taken from Wikipedia).

The Parish Hall recently erected by the vestry of St. John’s Church, Fremantle, to be known as the Victoria Hall, will be formally opened by His Excellency the Governor and Lady Smith on September 28. The Hall is built on an excellent site in High-street; it is well proportioned and lofty, while the elevation is particularly striking and effective. We understand that it will be used primarily for Church of England purposes, but that it will also be available as a public hall. A strong committee is now busily engaged in organising a series of inaugural entertainments which will extend over five evenings, commencing the 28th prox. The West Australian. 11 August 1897, (from Wikipedia).

The Victoria Hall was used by Norm Wrightson and his Orchestra for Saturday night dances for thirty years from 1949, and by his brother Bob Wrightson as a dance studio. More recently, it was the home of Deckchair Theatre until 2012 when the lighting rig was deemed to be dangerous and the play in rehearsal (Ingle Knight’s The Fremantle Candidate) was moved to the Perth Cultural Centre, after which Deckchair Theatre closed permanently. The Hall is currently used by the Fly by Night Club, but has no liquor licence.

Physical Description
A stone building with brick quoins and reveals. It has been re-roofed with zincalume, the roof having a Dutch gable behind the parapet of the front facade. The front facade has paired Corinthian columns flanking the entrance. Classical pediment with a dated florid tympanum. Denticulated moulding three circular windows with stucco drapery as detailing Timber sash windows with restrained stucco architraves. Above the windows are moulded pediments. Continuous sill moulding forming a dado. Fluted pilasters define the ends of the facade. Articulated parapet interrupted by half piers. Rusticated stone base. Double doors. The lintels of the windows of the side elevation consist of a three course radiating arch. Much of the internal decorative finishes and detailing is intact. (ref from Heritage Council).

References: Heritage Council page and Wikipedia


By Nachoman-au CC-BY-SA-3.0
By Nachoman-au CC-BY-SA-3.0


I was astounded to hear Western Australian Treasurer Mike Nahan arrogantly dismissing the objections against the Perth Freight Link on TV, stating that it would take at least twenty years to build a port at Kwinana, but giving no indication when the government will start budgeting and planning for the outer harbour port, in the knowledge that Fremantle port will reach capacity in around ten years from now.

I would support spending good money on fast solutions for the short term and get more freight on rail, and trucks off our roads, but certainly governments have a duty to plan and build for the long-term future and not just for the next 5-10 years. Building an outer harbour port does not, and should not, stop short-term improvement projects to deal with the ever increasing freight to the port that often makes driving along Leach Highway a nightmare and creates traffic jams in North Fremantle. It should go hand in hand.

Where did the Treasurer get advise from that building a new port in Cockburn Sound would take a mammoth twenty years and why has he not budgeted for it?

The short-sightedness and spin regarding the Perth Freight Link is serious mismanagement of our State’s affairs and looks more like stubbornness than good governance. To spend some two billion dollars on a road to a port that will not be able to grow much more is a waste of money and even more so when there are no concrete plans, and no money, to duplicate the Stirling Bridge. Fact is that the State does not have the financial capacity to build the bridge in the near future. That could mean a $ 2 billion road to nowhere that more or less stops at the Swan River, where a huge bottleneck would be created and a traffic nightmare for years to come.

Arrogance is not governance Mike Nahan and concentrating on short-term solution will only make matters far worse in the future. An outer harbour port is the best long-term strategy and needs to be prioritised!

Roel Loopers
Source: Freo’s View, 22/07/2015


Colin Nichol attempts to trace the history of official announcements on a move to Kings Square of the State Housing Department.

IF you thought Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt was chasing a rainbow in his campaign to have the state Department of Housing headquarters relocated to Fremantle, government media releases and Hansard tell the story:
Beginning after the beginning with the Government Office Master Plan 2012-2018, which was approved earlier in March 2010 when cases were being prepared for decentralisation of government offices to various metropolitan centres including, “Department of Housing moving to Fremantle. There will be opportunities for other agencies to decentralise to Stirling and Fremantle, with the Department of Housing and Department of Commerce being the core occupants of multi-agency buildings.”

Not a definite undertaking, but indicative.

Then on 27 June 2012 Finance Minister Simon O’Brien announced plans to relocate 80,000sqm of government office space from the CBD to Stirling, Fremantle and Murdoch in the second stage of the State Government’s office accommodation reforms. Head office functions of the departments of Commerce and Housing would relocate to Stirling and Fremantle respectively, as anchor tenants for Government office centres in these areas. “Perth’s CBD remains the tightest – and most expensive – office market in the nation, a situation that shows no signs of easing any time soon,” Mr O’Brien said. The exact location of each site will be determined in business cases to be compiled over the next 12 months (by mid-2013?). These will canvass a range of options, from fully government-owned to commercially leased buildings.

He would now be seen as wrong about the office market, it is more competitive now, unfortunately for Fremantle – and still no published business case. In July 2012, the Minister’s office announced: “A large component of the 2012–18 Master Planning process aims to take advantage of the historically lower rental costs outside the Perth CBD. To do this, the Department of Finance’s Building Management and Works are working with agencies to develop business cases for the decentralisation of the head office functions of the Department of Commerce to the City of Stirling, the head office functions of Department of Housing to the City of Fremantle .. (etc)”

Looking better, but conditional.And later, on 25 July 2012 the Minister stated the Government Office Accommodation Master Plan metropolitan component was set to move staff from Perth’s CBD to metropolitan centres at Murdoch, Stirling and Fremantle.

More encouraging.
Then he said it again on 23 November 2012: “The Government is actively advancing its plan to decentralise office accommodation from the Perth central business district. Metropolitan locations announced in June by the Minister are Stirling, Murdoch and Fremantle. Perth’s CBD office market remains extremely tight, and there is an opportunity for Government to achieve significant savings through the decentralisation and consolidation of office accommodation.”
Beginning to seem more hopeful than helpful and achieving savings the motivator.

Responding to a question on this on 6 May 2015 from Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk, the present Finance Minster Minister Bill Marmion said: “We are looking for value-for-money options. In recent times, the property market in Fremantle has gone down. The actual number of value-for-money options being looked at, which will be delivered to me, are looking more favourable. My department is looking at re-evaluating three options for the possibility of some departments. The one that has been in the media is obviously the Department of Housing.” And, “We are looking at the options. Obviously, it has to be a value-for-money proposition. The taxpayers of Western Australia’s money has to be considered in the equation. However, I will say to the house that we are in support of decentralisation, and Fremantle is one area we are looking at seriously.” That theme of “value for money” is now cropping up frequently and significantly, the Kings Square site is one where the owners will need to recoup high costs.

Fremantle is looking less competitive.
It gets stickier. Parliament’s Hansard 24 June 2015, Premier Barnett responding to Simone McGurk: “As I said, that was happening over the last couple of years (since 2010), and it is now 2015”. It is not an easy project to put together. It is very marginal—in fact, it may even be negative. However, in good faith, the state has worked on the proposal of moving state housing from East Perth to Fremantle. The Minister for Finance has carriage of that, and negotiations have taken place with a prospective developer. Indeed, we may well go out to tender, and may well move some other government employees to Fremantle. It is not an obvious win for state government. To justify that project depends on, I guess, the goodwill and the revitalisation of Fremantle as being worth a price, because it will come at a price. The member for Fremantle should support that because her constituency is dying at its heart.

Not looking good from a cost-effective and competitive point of view and a different government department may be allocated to Fremantle, if any. There could be an announcement in the latter part of this year, possibly.

Now comes a twist: “We’ll withdraw from any proposal to put state housing into Fremantle, we’ll withdraw right now.” Not only did the Premier in Parliament on 24 June introduce a late new element of threat into Fremantle’s part in the Office Master Plan, during what suddenly became an argument over an un-associated matter, he used the ambivalent “proposal” word. Housing may not find a home in Fremantle after all. A business case had been prepared by the Department of Finance to assess the costs and benefits of the move and the Premier told Parliament the numbers showed marginal benefit. Then a glimmer of hope again: “The State Government is doing all it can to make that happen, but it may well come at a cost to the state,” he said. “We’re trying to get it to be at least break even. Fremantle has been talking about that for several years. I have been listening, and we hope we can do it.”

They’re trying, it seems. Very trying, since it has taken five years since the commencement of this process and the latter three to arrive at a position of continued uncertainty. With the government giving itself until 2018 to complete decentralisation, there is no clarity of either “if” or “when”, only “maybe” and no confirmation of “where”.

Colin Nichol