Freo's View


Posted in architecture, fremantle by freoview on October 8, 2014

Reggio Emilia Italy highspeed train station



I had another sleepless night and was wondering if communities are ever ready for real change. How does an old historic city cope with modern architecture. Does it require people with a vision or simply people brave enough to be daring? The alternative to great outrageously beautiful modern design is boredom and doing it safe and conservative. Yes it’s new and modern but it won’t be too challenging for the residents.

Was Sydney ready for the Opera House, Vienna ready for the Hundertwasser buildings, Bilbao for the Guggenheim Museum? I don’t thinks so, but local governments were brave enough to insist on exceptional design and greatness and that has paid off.

Will Fremantle ever be ready for stunning modern architecture or will we conservatively just play it safe and get boring concrete boxes instead?

This is the railway station for the fast train at Reggio Emila in Italy. I love it!

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 8, 2014

It is very good news for Fremantle that the Department of Defence has bought the former Toyota dealership site at Queen Victoria Street and that they will be building 180 residential apartments there and retain 30 percent of them to house defence force personelle.

The changes to Queen Victoria Street as a modern entry statement to our city will be substantial and no doubt it will activate the area enormously.

Great to have a good news story for Freo. I am smiling!!

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on October 2, 2014

Is the future of Fremantle high, ugly and boring or will Council insist on design quality and mixed-use diversity? This is a question Fremantle Councillors should have a very deep think about, because the decisions they make now will have a huge impact for a very long time. It is no longer appropriate to see building applications as individual. Long-term strategy and guidelines for development need to be considered and implemented if planning is to step up considerably and professionally and away from piecemeal approval that does not consider the overall impact.

Another boring apartment building will go up at Leighton Beach and again there is no effort made by the developers for street-level commercial activity. The MIRVAC speaker also said a 100-bed hotel would be proposed for Leighton Beach soon as well. Great idea for the vitality of that beach just a few metres away from the North Fremantle train station.

But parking is already a major problem for  parents who drop off their children at the Surf Club and the area is quite boring really, especially the walk from the train station to the beach. It would be nice to see more shops and cafes opening there to make the uninspiring place more attractive. Something Manly-like would be nice.

The future for McCabe Street in North Freo, on the border of Mosman park, is high-rise and very controversial, with many speakers warning about the impact 33-42 metre high-rise would have on their neighbourhood. They rightly questioned why community consultation was done on proposed 17 metre-high buildings, but the Planning Services Committee was now discussing buildings of up to 42 metres. As one speaker said, that is like putting a high-rise on top of a high-rise, and it should go back to more intense community consultation.

The fact that public open spaces for the area were not part of the deliberations, also received criticism.

Overshadowing of the neighbourhood, all the way to the river, but also affecting Leighton Beach is something Council really needs to take into account.

Councillor Andrew Sullivan appears to be the one on Council who often pushes for more height, and citing commercial viability, and he said that the extra height-to 42 metres- would produce a more interesting physical built form, but luckily most other Councillors disagreed with him and the clause for additional discretionary  height above 33 metres was deleted on the motion of Mayor Brad Pettitt.

For me one of the more interesting parts of the deliberations between the Elected Members was that several said they were not confident they would get the carefully balanced designed required for such a tall building. That is because the State’s DAP or SAT overrule many local council decisions and allow inappropriate and mediocre buildings against the wishes of the local community.

A negative for the Fremantle community is that Councillor Sullivan is one of two Freo Council members on the Design Advisory Panel(DAP) and not allowed to represent Council views, but only his own personal-more height-ones. That to me is a worry. The second Freo member on the DAP is Deputy Mayor Josh Wilson.

The item will go back to full council in a few weeks from now, so let’s debate community ambience, public open and green spaces, traffic management and quality control.

While I not always agree with the decisions Councillors in Fremantle make, I admire the fact that they are very thorough in their deliberations and take their job seriously. It’s always fascinating to hear the deliberations as it is grassroots democracy at work.

Roel Lopers


Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on October 2, 2014

The Fremantle Council Planning Services Committee had a full agenda on Wednesday evening with many speakers from the public gallery. It is not an envious job to be a Councillor, as it is impossible to please everyone when it comes to making planning decisions that affect neighbours and sometimes the entire neighbourhood. The Elected Members do have a good go at it and a serious and detailed debate about the items.

The renovations/extensions of the Carriage Cafe on the Esplanade were finally approved and will now have to be ratified by State Government since it is an A Class Reserve. Negotiations about a new lease will then still have to follow with Carriage owner Kel Smith wanting a long lease to warrant his investment, so let’s wait and see what will happen there as Council soon will be discussing a new Masterplan for the Esplanade Reserve.

Many people spoke against a building in Malcolm Street that would impact on the heritage street scape of Malcolm Street and arguing it was not just a collection of buildings but it had a spirit of place and it was an experience of joy to walk down the street.

It was deferred to full council.

Good news that the owners of the very popular Cedar Tree Lebanese restaurant will be allowed to build a new one out of sea containers in a hidden South Fremantle corner at Brockman Place. No doubt it will be a funky little place for only 40 patrons with excellent food cooked by Ali.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 30, 2014

Fremantle ECOBURBIA will be showing TINY at REPLANTS on Wray Avenue on Friday, October 3.

It is a doco about home, and how we find it. The film follows one couple’s attempt to build a “tiny house” from scratch, and profiles other families who have downsized their lives into homes smaller than the average parking space.

Through homes stripped down to their essentials, the film raises questions about good design, the nature of home, and the changing American Dream.

From 1970 to 2010, the average size of a new house in America has almost doubled. Yet in recent years, many are redefining their American Dream to focus on flexibility, financial freedom, and quality of life over quantity of space. These self-proclaimed “Tiny Housers” live in homes smaller than the average parking space, often built on wheels to bypass building codes and zoning laws. TINY takes us inside six of these homes stripped to their essentials, exploring the owners’ stories and the design innovations that make them work.

TINY is a coming-of-age story for a generation that is more connected, yet less tied-down than ever, and for a society redefining its priorities in the face of a changing financial and environmental climate. More than anything, TINY invites its viewers to dream big and imagine living small.

Doors open at 6.30pm for dinner and conversation. The meal is BYO. The movie will start at 7.30 (or when it is dark enough!) so we can have some discussion afterwards.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on September 29, 2014

One of the reasons I started this Freo’s View blog four years ago was to provide a forum for the community to debate all things that matter to Fremantle.  I was expecting that there would be people who’d criticise my articles, and fair enough, what I write only represents my personal views, preferences and taste, and other people have different views, likes and dislikes.

But to receive comments that I am uninformed-even ignorant-and that I an “reactionary idiot” is quite funny because I do more to pro-actively inform myself than most Fremantle people.

Not only do I attend as many Council and planning committee meetings as I can, I also try to be at most planning information sessions about new development and attend most community workshops on just about everything. I also constantly look on the internet at city planning from around the globe to see what the new trends are.

Those who claim I am against development, or against “outsiders” developing in Fremantle, quite clearly do not know what they are talking about and have not read my many articles in support of development, so let me spell it out once again.

I don’t like the Hilton Hotel development at Point/Adelaide streets because I find the design boring and mediocre. I do like the saw-tooth roof building planned for the Spicers site and I believe the design of the Queensgate building is acceptable, while the plans for the MYER redevelopment could have been more daring.

The Civic Centre building design for Kings Square by Kerry Hill architects has a bit of class and is appropriate, but it failed to be iconic and that is disappointing.

The Atwell Arcade development is also disappointing, but at least the heritage aspect of the mall as a thoroughfare will be retained and that is important, but the exterior should have been so much better. The same applies to the short-term accommodation on the corner of Pakenham and Short street. Yes, the heritage character of the interior is respected but the exterior is really a slap in the face for the West End heritage precinct. The development on the corner of Banister and Pakenham is also a pretty bland box of nothingness.

I do like the Cliff Street development by architect Murray Slavin. This will be an inconic modern building that compliments the heritage buildings next to it.

Let me make a few more points; I am not a NIMBY, as none of the planned development is anywhere near my backyard in White Gum Valley. Contrary to those who propose inappropriate development in Fremantle I am not commenting because of personal financial gain, but solely because of my love for Fremantle.

Contrary to others I do not believe that any change and transformation is good for Fremantle. Change just for the sake of change is not progress and mediocre new buildings will in the long run be a negative for our city. I am also a big believer in integrated planning, instead of stand-alone development, and I would like to see a higher emphasis on residential CBD development and not mainly commercial and retail.

Disagree with me as much as you like, but at least inform yourself and attend Council and information meetings, as I do. I spend many hours a week trying to help make Fremantle a better place, without any financial benefits for myself. I promote events, festivals, businesses, art exhibitions, etc. on this blog and support Freo as a destination by publishing stunning photos of the city.

I have a real passion for Fremantle and I do not apologise for that. I will continue to support great modern development and criticise bland mediocrity, no matter how many people attack me.

Mea culpa for caring.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 26, 2014

The Fremantle Network get together at Clancys on Thursday was in two parts. The second part was about a great social housing project at 100 Hampton Road and I will do a separate article on it later, as I want to go and take some photos first.

The first talk was by Pete Adams of the Yolk Property Group, who will be building the short-term tourist accommodation at 50 Pakenham Street, and I can’t let him get away with silly generalisations.

Mr Adams questioned why Fremantle was so obsessed with no height and claimed town planning in Freo had been dominated by the vocal minority.

Fremantle is only obsessed with height in inappropriate locations, Pete Adams. If you want to build in the West End you know before you even purchase a property that there is a four-storey limit, so why try to get more height? Pretty silly really, don’t you think? Blaming that on a vocal anti-height minority group is pretty immature. If you want more height why not develop a bit further East at Queen Victoria or Beach Street for example.

On your website you claim that the Yolk Property Group “understand the Western Australian and Victorian lifestyle” Really?! I don’t think that the lifestyle in Fremantle is anything like the one in Melbourne.

You also claim that “before we design a standout development we look at how we can blend in. We get our design cues from the historic language of the location.”

Sorry, Peter Adams but that is just PR spin, because the building you designed for 50 Pakenham Street in the historic West End pays little reference and homage to the heritage area. It is a very mediocre building.

Inform yourself, Pete Adams, and read the letters to the editors of newspapers from all over Perth, where people complain about out of character buildings in older suburbs, and start paying a bit more respect, instead of blaming planning issues on those of us who are pasionate about the lifestyle and uniqueness of Fremantle. Hot air and empty words on your website should be replaced by great design and sensitivity for the location. Dazzle us with facts and great buildings, instead of hyperbole.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 25, 2014

The Western Australian state government today announced the planned sale of 20 parcels of land at an estimated sales price of $ 250 million. In the Fremantle area this include the former Police Station in Henderson Street, the Kaleeya Hospital  and Woodside Maternity Hospital sites, and the Potato Marketing Corporation HQ at North Coogee.

The sale of the heritage-listed Police Station is a bit of a worry and should come with development conditions, and the money from the sale should be directed straight toward the renovation of the Warders Cottages. We have yet to see any progress in the announced $ 2 million restoration of the historic cottages which have been an eyesore for years.

Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk said: “It is absolutely essential that the Barnett Government ensure that the profits from these sales are re-invested in Fremantle, and not in far-flung vanity projects. There are any number of Fremantle projects in that would be worthy, and in fact are urgent, recipients.

It’s vital that any sale of the Fremantle Police Station and Woodside Hospital ensures that the heritage values of the buildings are maintained. Profits from the sale of Fremantle Police Station could be used right next door to restore the Warders’ Cottages. Six months ago, the Premier and the Heritage Minister announced a $2 million heritage fund to restore the Warders’ Cottages, yet nothing has been done.  

The closure of Kaleeya Hospital as a public facility is a blow to the wider Fremantle community, particularly because it provided intimate and uncomplicated birthing services to expecting mothers. It appears that the site will continue to be used as a hospital, which is welcome news, but of course a private facility is not available for the whole community.”

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle by freoview on September 24, 2014

building 1 building 2

Come on you investors and developers mob, come and buy some of Fremantle’s great buildings and kick arse our local economy.

These stunning buildings at Kings Square and in Mouat Street are for sale, as is the Fremantle Workers Club in Henry Street. The latter is not a great building but it is in a fantastic location.

Why not buy all three as a Christmas present for someone special. ; >)

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, fremantle by freoview on September 23, 2014

It is disappointing to see this morning that another Fremantle business has closed and the shutters are down at the Mistral Cafe on Kings Square, that had been there for a long time. The mall is also in a sorry state so what on earth can we all do in the short-term for Freo?

Good news to hear that construction on the Heirloom by Match residential apartments in the former Dalgety&Son woolstores at Queen Victoria Street will start mid December.

Roel Loopers


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