FREMANTLE DEVELOPMENT NEEDS SPATIAL AWARENESS
The Streetwise column in the West Australian property section by architect and lecturer in architecture Dr Simon Pendal should be a must read for Fremantle Councillors and planning officers because Pendal’s expert opinion is significant for the way Fremantle develops.
Pendal writes that In an increasingly global world, we should not be afraid to be provincial and to work with an awareness of our individual and shared mental space. This is important to keep certain areas ‘proudly identifiable’ he argues.
This strongly applies to retaining Fremantle’s unique character and is even more significant in the West End and in regard to the, in my opinion unacceptable, development proposal by Notre Dame University for the corner of High and Cliff streets.
Dr. Pendal argues that design that renders all places equal fails to recognise the ‘local mental space’ of a street or suburb, and he writes that we have a kind of common spatial understanding that we shape and that shapes us. The historic West End of Fremantle no doubt has done that for many decades and needs to be protected from inappropriate architecture.
I believe people connect to these spaces, relate to them and feel a sense of belonging and proud ownership. That is why many want to live in Fremantle because it is unique, has a special character and connects us to our roots of history.
Community is not just about people but about lifestyle, a common ground and the awareness that we are sharing this exceptional city and are the custodians of it, to pass it on to future generations; changed, improved and developed, but with deep respect and consideration for the past.
That is not happening in Freo at the moment, where ugly and mediocre buildings are being approved and many more proposed, to the detriment of our city’s character. We can and must do a whole lot better than that!