Freo's View

FREO TOWNHALL FLAG RAISED AFTER LONG ABSENCE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on May 26, 2017

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For the first time in ten years the Australian national flag was raised above the Fremantle Townhall at noon today, and the repaired bells were ringing.

A big mob of people turned up for the official unveiling of the Townhall conservation works and were very impressed with the brilliant outcome.

New WA Minister and Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk was present, as was Federal Labor MP for Fremantle Josh Wilson.

City of Fremantle heritage architect Alan Kelsall was clearly relieved and delighted that the effort by a large team of people had all been worth all the hard work.

Roel Loopers

SHIFTING GOALPOSTS NOT COMMUNITY PROBLEM

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on May 25, 2017

Fremantle Council deferred a decision last night on the application by developers Silverleaf to not go ahead with adding more fritted glass screens to the building, as was agreed on in the planning approval.

The planning officers and Design Advisory Committee wanted Council to  reject the application but an amendment by Councillor Rachel Pemberton is trying to find a compromise.

Pemberton said she was concerned and tried to understand the practical reality of not adding the glass screens, but it is the the original approved plans so why wasn’t it done? But there is no harm done to see if a good compromise can be found.

The DAC said it is very disappointed with the amended proposal as it spent considerable time with the proponent, and a number of design outcomes were negotiated and considered necessary components that lead to the DAC’s conditional approval of the building.

The DAC believes the fritted glass screens address the scale and massing by making the detail behind the glass less legible.

Silverleaf owner Gerard O’Brien said the developer had spent more money into details such as tuck pointing the facades in High and Cantonment streets and that he had been advised by the builders that retrospect adding of the fritted glass screens would be difficult.

I don’t mind the building as it kind of floats over the old facades and the fritted glass screens definitely help to give it that appearance of softness, so I would like to see the developer stick to the plans Fremantle Council approved. They made it more difficult for themselves, and probably more costly now, by not adhering to the plans and making unapproved changes as they went along.

I do understand the triple bottom line and Silverleaf at present developing eight major sites in different councils, but at the end of the day if developers move the goal posts during construction that is a decision they have to live with and pay for. The community should not be told that it is too expensive and troublesome now to do what they agreed on in the first place when they applied for planning approval from council.

Roel Loopers

NOTRE DAME REDESIGN NURSING SCHOOL

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, heritage, notre dame university, Uncategorized by freoview on May 23, 2017

Fremantle Notre Dame University Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond announced at a small community meeting about the proposed five-storey new Nursing School building in High Street that UNDA will not try to seek approval from the WA Development Assessment Panel, but will redesign the building instead.

The proposal was strongly criticised by the Fremantle community and West End residents and rejected by Fremantle Council because the design quality and height were deemed inappropriate for and disrespectful to the historic West End. The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce approved of the building.

The Vice Chancellor emphasised that Notre Dame is part of the West End and the Freo community and she did not want to put a building up that the community rejected.

From the first day I heard Celia Hammond speak during a Leaders Luncheon at the Esplanade Hotel years ago I have been impressed with her and how genuine she is. She has again shown very strong leadership on a contentious issue and she and UNDA deserve to be congratulated for it.

The small community round table talk was organised by TGP who have been contracted by UNDA to independently assess the pros and cons of the new School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Members of the Fremantle Inner City Residents Association were present, as were the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, the president of the Fremantle Society, architect Murray Slavin and myself.

Roel Loopers

NOTRE DAME APPOINTS WEST END CONSULTANTS

Fremantle Notre Dame University has appointed the recently merged TPG+Place Match group to undertake further independent consultation in regard to the proposed development of a new Nursery and Midwifery School on the corner of High and Cliff streets.

The five-storey  development was rejected for approval by Fremantle Council  because it exceeds the three-storey limit for the heritage-listed West End Precinct, and because of its inappropriate and poor design quality.

The deciding authority for the building is the WA Development Assessment Panel but UNDA adjourned the approval process to make changes to the building after strong community objections.

It will be interesting to see if UNDA will abandon their plans for an, in my opinion un-approvable, five storey building and alter the design to make its architecture more sympathetic and respectful to the heritage streetscape, or if they will go ahead and apply for approval of a five-story building at the DAP.

This from the TPG+Place Match website:

  • Stakeholder and community engagement
  • Place visioning and narrative
  • Strategic and statutory planning
  • Urban design and place planning
  • Heritage and cultural planning
  • Place branding and promotion
  • Community development
  • Place activation 

TPG+Place Match have a track record of working together on several high profile place-led projects, including the Perth Cultural Centre Place Plan, the Curtin University Place Activation project and several regional revitalisation and enhancement projects in Bunbury, Morawa and Esperance.

Since its inception in 2011, Place Match has become WA’s most sought after place making firm, offering niche expertise in place visioning and branding, destination planning, place activation and management.  The firm has breathed new life and added significant value to places across Perth city, suburban areas and into regional WA.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE CONSERVATION WORK GOING TO PLAN

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on May 10, 2017

 

Union Stores

 

Freo’s View reader Kel sent me some photos and complained about the condition of the historic Fremantle Unions Stores building on the corner of High and Henry streets, saying he feared the conservation work the City had conducted was not done properly and the same deterioration might happen to the Townhall.

I asked the Heritage Department of CoF for a detailed response and received this reassuring explanation:

UNION STORES
Since 2012 there has been an ongoing programme of works to conserve the Union Stores, to address various compliance issues and to upgrade services.
– 2013 – A safe roof access system was installed to allow for regular maintenance of the roof, gutters and air conditioning and also for undertaking conservation works in the following year.
– 2014 – Urgent structural repairs carried out to the parapets and gables. Parapets and gables conserved along with the deteriorated projecting flat surfaces of window sills, cornices and parapet copings. Street verandahs (reconstructed 1987) repaired and strengthened.
– 2015 – Electrical distribution board and fire systems upgraded and the rear verandah (1987) repaired and strengthened.
– 2016 – Ventilation of the basement improved to reduce damp and humidity to protect ground floor timbers and reduce problems with rising damp.

These works are part of the orderly process for the conservation and care of the City’s portfolio of heritage assets. The intention is to address building conservation in a manner that considers levels of urgency, economies of scale, correct sequence and good conservation practice. Many of these items of work will not be conspicuous but are vital to the conservation and long-term sustainability of these important heritage buildings for present and future generations.

Future works are planned to continue the conservation of the building facades once the moisture has evaporated from the walls and the damaging salts have migrated to the surface.

2014 Urgent Conservation Works
During 2012 and 2013 the poor condition of the rear of the parapets of the Union Stores was discovered and remedial works were planned for 2014. These parapets had become unstable due to the deterioration of the soft clay bricks – deterioration that had been exacerbated by well-meaning but inappropriate repairs in the 1980s as well as the painting of the building facades from the 1960s onwards.

Like the Fremantle Town Hall, damaging salts and moisture had seeped into the walls through hairline cracks and were trapped in the walls by cement render and plastic paints. The entrapped salts and moisture led to the deterioration of the soft clay bricks and lime mortar of the wall itself and caused embedded iron pins in decorative mouldings and structural bolts and plates to rust and expand causing cracking in the walls. To address this problem the paint and cement renders were removed to allow the walls to breathe and new repairs made use of breathable lime mortars, hydraulic lime renders and lime wash finishes.

However, the construction and condition of the Unions Stores was different to the Town Hall and required a different approach for its conservation. Removing the paint from the parapets was more difficult because the stucco surface was softer and in poorer condition. Also the early use of calcimine paint and lime wash on the building meant that although the walls could breathe well, not all of the pigment could be successfully removed.

The biggest difference however, was the volume of salt escaping from the walls. Almost immediately after the removal of paint and cement render from the parapets of the union stores large amounts of salt began to crystallise on the surface of the parapets. Within the same timeframe there was only a small amount of discolouration from salt at the Fremantle Town Hall. While the appearance of salt on the surface is good because it shows that the walls are healing themselves, when there is a large amount of salt it needs to be managed to minimise damage to the surface of the stucco. For this reason a sacrificial coating of lime wash was applied to the surface of the conserved areas so that the salt would crystallise on the lime wash causing it to decay rather than the stucco. The building was then left to gradually dry out expel the salts before any further works were undertaken.

Now in 2017 the salt crystals and some of the decayed lime wash has been washed off the Union Stores leaving the parapets looking somewhat patchy but in much better physical condition. This means that when further conservation works are undertaken in the future they will not be affected by salt damage.

We expect that the Fremantle Town Hall will suffer some deterioration from escaping salts as the walls breathe again but it will not be as significant as the Union Stores. Also, because the removal of paint from the stucco at the town hall was more successful, when there is some deterioration it will be less obvious as it will be the same colour as the surrounding stucco.

The Fremantle Townhall will officially be unveiled on Friday May 26 at 11.30 am at the start of the Heritage Festival. It looks absolutely stunning!

STUNNING TOWNHALL CONSERVATION WORK

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, conversation, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on May 3, 2017

Fremantle Townhall

 

Someone should get a heritage award for the stunning conservation work that has been done on the Fremantle Townhall.

The last details are being attended to before the entire building will be revealed at the start of Fremantle Heritage Week.

The buildings is now so delightfully beautiful and a real icon in our city.

If parts of it look patchy that is good, as it is a sign the building is now healing itself and getting rid of accumulated salt.

Well done everyone involved and a big thank you to the City of Fremantle heritage department!

Roel Loopers

FREO HISTORY FOR SALE

Posted in architecture, fremantle, heritage, housing, Uncategorized by freoview on May 3, 2017

 

The historic Warders Cottages next to the Fremantle Markets in the Henderson Street Mall still have not been sold and the Heritage Council hopes these six will be sold to one owner.

The Police and Court precinct, including the cottages next to it were sold to Freo developers Silverleaf.

The cottages that have been sold so far fetched on average $ 600,000.00  each.

They are very tiny and definitely not suitable for a small bar as the steps to the first floor are very steep and the rooms claustrophobically small.

I wonder though if the new security gate is really the best solution at these heritage buildings and if not something more suitable and sympathetic to the old style could have been installed. Pretty bad taste!

Roel Loopers

ATWELL ARCADE CHANGES NOT SUPPORTED

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on May 2, 2017

 

Fremantle Atwell Arcade developers Silverleaf are seeking alterations to the initial approval of the building from the City of Fremantle, but the changes are not supported by the City’s planning department and Design Advisory Committee.

Silverleaf wants to remove two levels of fritted glass panels on the north east and south east of the building and also some on the south of the building.

The wording of the Design Advisory Committee advise appears to be one of annoyance with the developers trying to get changes approved when the building is already occupied:

  •   DAC is very disappointed with this amended proposal. As part of the process of design evaluation, DAC spent considerable time working on key aspects of the design with the proponent. A number of design outcomes were negotiated and were considered as necessary components leading to the DAC conditional support of the proposal and its massing and form.
  •   The fritted glazing was incorporated into the original design to help address the issue of scale and massing of the additions by making the detail behind the glass less legible and therefore allowing the visible building bulk to be read as more ‘ephemeral’.
  •   The built outcome is the negation of what was negotiated and agreed, the opposite of what the DAC had been led to believe would be provided.
  •   The provision of the balustrading to the street parapet was recognised as an important component of the promised heritage contribution.
  •   DAC is unwilling to accept that these design components, agreed by the proponent and necessary for DAC’s initial support, should be deleted because of cost.
  •   In summary, DAC does not support any of the proposed changes to the fritted glazing and screening, nor the deletion of the balustrade, all critical parts of the negotiated outcome that led to DAC supporting the project. DAC believes the project should be completed in the form that it supported and on which the DA was approved.

It is interesting to note that design changes are quite often proposed by developers after the City has given building approval and often cost are given as the reason for the changes.

Silverleaf is a huge property owner in Fremantle and they are going to develop the Woolstores Shopping Centre site, the Henderson Street Police and Courthouse precinct and the Manning Arcade, so it is very important that the developers realise they can’t get away with late changes after the horse has bolted. They need to budget better so cost don’t become an issue well into the development process.

I like it that Silverleaf does not land bank and that they quickly develop the properties they buy, but they also need to be aware of their corporate responsibilities to the community. It is not helpful that they express frustration with Fremantle Council and the DAC when Council and the expert panel insist on better design, because developers trying to cut corners and getting away with average buildings is not acceptable to the Fremantle community.

Developers often behave as if we owe them gratitude for developing in Fremantle, and I for one am delighted about so many new buildings in the CBD, but trying to get approval for un-approvable buildings is becoming a bit of a norm, with five storeys proposed for the West End when only three are permitted, and with design quality that should see architects publicly flogged for daring to suggest boring mediocrity that is disrespectful to Fremantle’s unique heritage character.

Silverleaf is good for Fremantle but only if they create stunning new inner city buildings instead of blandness. The fritted glass panelling on the Atwell Arcade makes the multi-storey building appear a lot softer and it blends better into the sky. Those plans were approved by Council and the developers now need to fulfil their part of the ‘contract’ with the City of Fremantle and not expect late changes.

The item is on the CoF Planning Committee agenda for this Wednesday at 6 pm.

Roel Loopers

 

VISION FOR GREATER FREMANTLE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, town of east fremantle, Uncategorized by freoview on April 26, 2017

 

East Fremantle Deputy Mayor Michael McPhail is Australia’s youngest Deputy Mayor. His impressive presentation at the Fremantle Network of the vision plan for the East Freo Leeuwing Barracks and foreshore showed why he was elected by his peers to the position.

A lot of water will flow under the bridges before the plans will be realised as the Defence Department owns the land and will have the final say after all, but at least the Town of East Fremantle is pro-actively involved in what must be one of the most significant development projects for the town and greater Fremantle.

McPhail said this was Fremantle’s day and Fremantle’s time and that the area is an emerging area for opportunity thanks to Fremantle Council, and it needs a regional big picture view.

He said the two major future visions for river foreshore development in the Perth metro area are the Leeuwin Barracks and the South Quay project, and he showed East Fremantle’s Port to Point Vision, all the way from Fremantle Port to Point Walter. It is about how we reconnect Fremantle to its foreshore McPail said.

He rightly pointed out that the South Quay project is a long way away still, while the Leeuwin development is imminent with land sales starting later this year, and said the East Street jetty area could be beautified by Fremantle Council before that.

Riverside Drive is old and needs to be realligned to accommodate the vision plans and the huge Leeuwin development that would see some 1,400 new residents moving into new apartment buildings, a new hotel, shops and large green open spaces for residents and the wider community to enjoy.

The vision showed two major 15-storey towers on the 14 hectare site plus 4-8 storey buildings spread among the large public spaces that will connect to river boardwalks.

It will require careful planning by the Town of East Fremantle and Mainroads to accommodate the additional vehicle movement along Preston Point Road and Riverside Drive as the majority of the new residents and visitors will be driving cars.

Michael McPhail is right that he sees this as a huge opportunity for Greater Fremantle and I believe it is essential for the two local councils and State Government to work together on a vision plan for the foreshore area from the Fremantle railway station all the way to Point Walter.

Roel Loopers

NO UGLINESS IN HISTORIC WEST END!

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on April 23, 2017

Pakenham Street development proposal

There is an information session at the City of Fremantle on Thursday April 27 at 5.30 pm about the ridiculous development proposal for Pakenham and Phillimore streets in the heritage-listed historic West End.

The proponents want totally inappropriate five storeys of ugliness, so it is important that the community let Fremantle Councillors and State agencies know that we do not want these buildings in our heritage precinct.

You can write a submission against these proposals on the City of Fremantle website. Do it!

Roel Loopers

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