Freo's View

WHAT IS GOOD TASTE IN BUILDING DESIGN?

 

I think all of us who often complain about the mediocre new architecture we are getting in Fremantle should be delighted that the new DESIGN WA guidelines will apply from today on, but I am quite skeptical about the impact it will have, because good design is like good taste. It is very personal and hard to quantify.

Often when I have slammed the design of buildings others have commented they liked what I believed was atrocious architecture, so why would expert panels be any different in their different taste and preferences? Who dictates what good taste and good design is?

The new DESIGN WA guidelines are all about aesthetics and a review panel of 50 people will decide which planning proposal is in good taste and which one is not. The design review panel comprises of people from architecture, urban design, planning, and landscape architects plus more from heritage, public health, sustainability and engineering. It will be near impossible to reach consensus in such a big group I fear, so Chair Geoff Warn, who is the WA Government Architect, will have a big job ahead of him.

DESIGN WA has got rid of the controversial R-Code system applied up to now, so I wonder if Fremantle and other local councils will also do that. I’ll ask the Fremantle Planning Department if changes will be made in that regard.

I believe that our cities and communities deserve much better design than what we largely have been getting lately, especially for substantial apartment and office buildings. Retaining the tree canopy or providing significant numbers of trees and plants and creating much better streetscapes an public realm will be a very positive step forward. Let’s hope it can all be realised.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE MASS TIMBER BUILDING WA FIRST

 

High and Josephson

 

The YOLK Group has applied for planning approval for a six storey building on the corner of Josephson and High streets, just east of Kings Square.

If approved the building would be the first mass timber building in WA.

The Harris Jenkins Architects designed building would feature a bar, restaurant and cafe at street level plus five floors of office accommodation.

“The proposal presented in this application successfully delivers a vision for the site which:
Has been inspired by the Fremantle Port’s old timber-framed industrial storage sheds, taking inspiration from its historical and coastal port environment.

Will contribute towards the broader revitalisation of the Fremantle City Centre, together with the Kings Square development and other new developments.

Will promote social life and activity through a bar/restaurant which activates High and Josephson Street and encourages social interaction.

Will provide a mass timber framed office which is one of the most sustainable materials available which has been demonstrated to boost productivity
and mood, promoting wellbeing in the workplace.

Will contribute towards delivering a unique identity and focal point for the eastern end of the City Centre, ensuring its ongoing rejuvenation.”

Roel Loopers

WHAT FREMANTLE CAN LEARN FROM FRANCE’S MULHOUSE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, hospitality, retail, Uncategorized by freoview on May 23, 2019

 

City of Fremantle Heritage Coordinator Alan Kelsall made me aware of a very positive article in The Guardian by Angelique Chrisofis about the revitalisation of the town of Mulhouse in the east of France, which should inspire Fremantle to continue with its efforts of recreating the high street ambience of the past.

According to Chrisofis the town “was once considered eastern France’s grimmest town” and ten years ago “was a symbol of the death of the European high street”

The town of 110,000 residents had a very high rate of youth unemployment, poverty, crime and anti-social behaviour, but that all turned around when Council took action.

Mulhouse set out to rebalance the housing mix. Generous subsidies for the renovation of building fronts expedited a facelift of more than 170 buildings. Security and community policing were stepped up. Transport was key – with a new tram system, bike schemes, shuttle buses and cheap parking.
But making the town’s public spaces attractive was just as important, with wider pavements, dozens of benches, and what officials deemed a “colossal budget” for tree planting and maintenance, gardening and green space. Local associations, community groups and residents’ committees were crucial to the efforts. A town centre manager was appointed to support independents and high-street franchises setting up.

The big change happened and 470 new shops and businesses opened over the last eight years. 75% of them are independent!

Read the full article in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/may/20/from-bleak-to-bustling-how-one-french-town-beat-the-high-street-blues-mulhouse

In this context it is good to hear that Notre Dame University is considering a Masterplan for their Fremantle West End campus, in close collaboration with the City of Fremantle.

The uni recognises that it has grown well organically over the last 20 years but that it will be good to plan more ahead for the future with Freo City’s planners and Council, in light of the fact that NDA acquired the former Customs House buildings. Very positive!

 

Roel Loopers

QUIRKY NEW FREO STREET FURNITURE

Posted in city of fremantle, city planning, furniture, public space, Uncategorized by freoview on May 14, 2019

 

 

street furniture

 

Quirky colourful street furniture has popped up on the corner of Market Street and Cantonment Street in the Fremantle CBD.

I am not sure if this was done by the City of Fremanle or Silverleaf Investments as part of the Artwell Arcade beautification.

Roel Loopers

RED TAPE PREVENTS LOOPY RESURRECTION

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, Easter, religion, Uncategorized by freoview on April 22, 2019

 

Easter is a time of contemplation, and even more so for me this year because I have hardly been able to participate in the Fremantle Street Arts Festival due to sciatica and hay fever medication, which when combined made me feel like a zombie today.

But I was thinking how lucky JC, the one from the Bible, was that red tape and nanny-state did not exist when he was resurrected, because it would probably not be allowed in our modern and very restrictive times.

As a forward-looking and future-focused person I have of course started to plan my own resurrection, but red tape has made it extremely frustrating.

I admit that the Fremantle Planning Department in the past have issued warnings about the demolition by neglect of my own heritage body, but surely they could be a bit more flexible when it comes to my resurrection.

My planning/resurrection application for a slim 210cm body with great film star looks was considered to be unrealistic and the additional discretionary height-up from 175cm- was rejected because there was no evidence that my new looks would be anywhere near as good as the architect’s plans suggested. Dare I mention that there was also  extremely strong community opposition to my resurrection. There was even a petition with 57,000 signatures, which shows not even the people in mediocre Cockburn and Melville like me!

I did go to JDAP and SAT but they too believed my resurrection was of no great benefit to the Fremantle community. It’s a shame, because now you will all be missing out on another long weekend after Loopy is a goner. 😡😍 😴😲 😇 😳

I hope you had a brilliant long weekend in Freo!

Roel Loopers

PS:  I was raised a Protestant and was Christened, so absolutely no intention to be disrespectful to the believers! It’s just a bit of lighthearted fun. Relax.

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SOD TURNED FOR FREMANTLE CIVIC CENTRE

 

KS

 

The first sod was turned for the construction of the new $ 41.3 million Fremantle Civic Centre at Kings Square on Tuesday morning.

Sean McGivern of Kerry Hill architects, Matthew McNeilly of Sirona Capital, George Allingame of Pindan, Member for Fremantle Minister Simone McGurk and Mayor Brad Pettitt grabbed a spate to show the work has started.

The Civic Centre development is part of the broader $ 41.3 million Kings Square Redevelopment Project the City of Fremantle is partnered in with Sirona Capital.

I was surprised to hear Sirona’s managing director say in his speech that the FOMO retail section will now only open next year, but when I asked Mr McNeilly about it he said that FOMO was never intended to open this year but always in April next year. Really?!

It was nice to see the former Fremantle CEO Graeme McKenzie attending the ceremony and also Minister Peter Tinley.

Roel Loopers

 

FREO GATEWAY DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Posted in cars, city of fremantle, city planning, development, property, real estate, Uncategorized by freoview on April 3, 2019

 

Shacks 1

Shacks 2

 

The opportunity for two large Fremantle gateway developments are on offer with the two Shacks Holden properties at Queen Victoria being put up for sale.

The two properties on either sides of James Street are more than 11,000sqm, with one of them next to the Heirloom warehouse apartments and opposite the LIV Defence Housing residential building.

One site is 3,464sqm and the other 6,725sqm and offer fantastic opportunities to make a stunning entry statement to Fremantle.

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE SOCIETY PRESIDENT LEAVING FREMANTLE

 

 

It is not official yet, but I was told last night that shock waves are going through the Fremantle Society with their president John Downson indicating that he will soon be relocating permanently to England.

Dowson is said to be deeply frustrated that the Society has been unable to make an impact on Fremantle planning matters and bad architecture, and he is outraged about what he calls the incompetent Fremantle Council, planning department and State’s JDAP and SAT, which approve in Dowson’s opinion inappropriate buildings in our city.

The Fremantle Society committee is very worried that they might not be able to find anyone to replace John Dowson because it has been very difficult over the past years to find members willing to put their hat in the ring and take on an official function, hence FS has now members on committee who don’t live anywhere near Fremantle.

Already during the last two years Dowson has ran FS partly from London, where he bought an apartment in a new upmarket subway station development, and from cruise ships on which he lectures about Fremantle’s history.

I see John Dowson’s departure from Fremantle as a good opportunity for the Fremantle Society to consider how to make the group relevant again and less political and council-bashing. It needs to go with the times and rejuvenate and redevelop itself and not be anti change and anti development. I hope the group won’t falter and collapse in a heap because of the departure of its powerful president.

If the Brits can cope with Brexit and Dowson is another thing, but good luck to John Dowson, who has been very controversial but with his heart in the right place for Freo.

Roel Loopers

 

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FREMANTLE HILTON HOTEL SITE SOLD TO TWIGGY FORREST

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, development, Uncategorized by freoview on April 1, 2019

 

I am not sure if it is good or bad news for Fremantle that the Point Street carpark site, that was destined to become a Hilton Doubletree hotel has been sold by the SKS Group to Twiggy Forrest’s Minderoo Group for $ 7,3 million.

Andrew-Twiggy-Forrest’s companies already own the Orient Hotel and Spicers carpark site in Fremantle and have indicated they want to invest more in our city, which is a sign of confidence in Fremantle Council and our city’s future.

There has been considerable apprehension at the City of Fremantle if the SKS Group would go ahead with the Hilton Doubletree hotel project at all, so at least that uncertainty has now been removed and all we can hope for is that the new owners will do a great development of the site soon and build something special there.

Roel Loopers

MELVILLE WAVE PARK REJECTION SIMILAR TO FREO’S J SHED TAVERN

 

The rejection by the State Government of the proposed wave park in the City of Melville is a huge win for the community there and has a lot in common with the State’s rejection of the planned tavern at J Shed on Fremantle’s Bathers Beach.

It is quite intriguing to notice that both local councils approved the controversial plans against huge community opposition and outrage and that even the community votes at special electors meetings were ignored.

One has to wonder also about the proposed location of a wave park in Melville that is just a 20-minute drive to Fremantle beaches. From memory there has even been an application for a small wave park near Port Beach, which makes even less sense.

It is nice to notice that the planning approval process, that is often criticised, worked well in both instances and that inappropriate uses of crown land were rejected by the State.

Roel Loopers

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