Freo's View


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, design, development by freoview on January 8, 2017





Fremantle’s CBD is under serious threat of becoming the architectural mediocrity hub of Australia with most of the new development being well below acceptable standards for our historic city with its unique character.

On Wednesday we will again see the attempt by uncaring developers to get approval from the CoF Planning Commitee for a five storey bland concrete box at the Mills Records building at 18-22 Adelaide Street. The building is so awful that one has to wonder what standards some architects apply to their design and if they actually care about surrounding buildings, streetscapes and historic significance of place. This ugly and boring building proposal is for Kings Square, the heart of Fremantle, for heaven’s sake!

To the west of the proposed building is one of Kings Square’s most beautiful facades, but Fremantle planning and heritage officers have recommended that this rubbish should be approved.

Five storeys is too high for that location but it appears that when you set back the upper floors a metre or two you can get away with anything, although the excruciating architectural blandness should not be rewarded with discretionary additional height.

Fremantle is in a development boom, that I am very happy about, but we are well on the slippery downward slide of creating a very boring architectural CBD that does not compliment the visual delight of the historic west end. The “heritage of the future” buildings Council promised the community during the Planning Scheme Amendment 49 debate are nowhere to be seen.

Our elected members are so keen on development that they will approve just about everything no matter how ugly, boring, inappropriate and disrespectful to Freo’s history these buildings are, hence we get utter blandness in Pakenham Street, a rubbish building next to the Australia Hotel, a boring building on the former Spotlight site and a pretty mediocre Hilton Doubletree hotel development, to name just a few. (To be fair, Freo council did reject the building next to the Australia Hotel but it was approved by a State Government agency).

I strongly support development and change in the inner city but we need to insist on good quality development and creative design. The lame duck CoF Design Advisory Panel might as well be scrapped because they seem to have very little influence in reaching better design outcomes. Maybe it’s better to give building plans to a local Kindergarten and let the littlies decide what they like. We might get a much better aesthetic outcome than we get with the present useless DAP process.

The proposed Adelaide Street building is what I call Google design. You search for ‘five storey mediocrity’ and for a few dollars you can buy plans for it off the internet from someone somewhere in the world who has never been to Fremantle. The proposed building might look okay in a semi-industrial street in O’Connor but it has no place at historic Kings Square.

While W.A. has lost its Triple A rating Fremantle is well on the way of receiving Triple B status for Bloody Boring Buildings.

Stop the rot, stop the boring mediocre ugliness, and protect Freo’s unique beauty Fremantle Council!

Roel Loopers

9 Responses

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  1. bigjulie said, on January 13, 2017 at 5:47 am

    I love the shine of tilt up concrete in the early morning light.

  2. Steve said, on January 10, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    This one is so bad it hurts. The setback actually makes it worse as it appears to be overlooking the great building to its left.

    It’s like the architect decided to design a building that looks like randomly stacked legos and got it spot on.

    At this community consultation, both the developer and architect should have to stand in front of the community and defend what they like about this building, how it adds value to the city, and why it should be built.

    Unfortunately, to me it’s no worse than the proposed kings square building which is just so boring it hurts. Ironic that the city though a massively successful festival in the open city square only to shortly start on a project that will clog up the open space with a gaudy building block of blah.

  3. freoview said, on January 9, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Yes it is really disappointing to see that so many developers only want cheap and that architects tarnish their reputation by designing such boring buildings that are disrespectful to Fremantle’s unique historic character Cate.


  4. Cate Rose said, on January 9, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Sadly so many things now seem to seem to lack imagination – it’s all designed down to a price.

  5. freoview said, on January 9, 2017 at 6:46 am

    Not a bad idea Murray.


  6. Cate Rose said, on January 9, 2017 at 6:43 am

    Seriously? Too awful ugh!

  7. luggerite said, on January 9, 2017 at 1:26 am

    bigjulie, I concur.

    When did unveiling plaques fall out of fashion? Probably when architects ceased to be seen as creative artists and became purveyors of chop it off by the mile dross.

    I absolutely agree with Roel, there’s some shockers in the works ATM. Can you imagine the view from one set-back concrete box to all the others? Once you get above the 3 storey heritage facades, all you see is dross. And the Town Hall. But that too may be crowded out of sight soon.

  8. Murray Slavin said, on January 8, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Why don’t you convene a community consultation on this subject. It should come from the community, not architects or developers or the City.

    Murray Slavin 马睿
    0438 004 038 +61 438 004 038


  9. bigjulie said, on January 8, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    The cure is simple: each new building has a plaque with the architect’s name and the firm’s name. Just like artists sign their work. It is called publicity.
    If you like the building when you walk past, you remember the architects name and employ him/her for your next project. If you don’t like the building, you remember the architect’s name and make sure you don’t employ him/her or that you don’t even use that firm which would tolerate such a poor unappealing design.

    That is called an informed consumer market.

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