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!
I think it is very clear that I am delighted that the City of Fremantle is putting up brand spanking new wayfinding signs throughout the CBD, and they look very good. It is something long overdue and I have been advocating for them for years, but does a project worth around $ 1 million really have to be done by an easter states design company when local businesses are struggling?
The City has a pool of designers who are supposed to get the design jobs that need to be done, but it looks now as if they are only getting the crumbs like festival brochures, etc. and the big prestigious new tourist sign job gets done somewhere over east, no doubt adding additional costs for staff to fly over here. Are they produced over east as well or were local companies used to make the signs?
Even if this specialist design job was considered to be outside the expertise of the City of Fremantle design pool members, there are very many outstanding designers in Perth who could have done the job. Think global, buy local, I think is the slogan, so a local government should look after its local businesses first!
The lovely Sheree and Jon Dornan known from Fremantle’s Love in Tokyo now have a new venture just down the road in Myaree and their first event is happening, so go and support them.
Here their Facebook message:
After many weeks of moving, building, painting and preparing our showroom THE ROOM at our new business BLOCK D STUDIOS we are ready for our first event.
THE ROOM will be transformed into an exclusive boutique for 3 days only
Friday April 15 4pm – 7pm
Saturday April 16 10am – 4pm
Sunday April 17 10am – 4pm
Sheree Dornan and some of your favourite brands from Love in Tokyo along with new brands for you to discover will be available to purchase.
There will be lots of parking right outside
4/89 Norma Road Myaree (corner of Norma Road and Blaikie Street) Directly behind Total Eden
Thirty years ago in September 1984 my then partner Brigitte Braun and I established Profile Photography in Perth and today in Fremantle is the launch of the new brand ROEL.COM.AU. The company needed a bit of refreshing, a rebirth, a facelift, just something that invigorates me to keep going in an industry that has even become more challenging than it ever was.
My career in Western Australia has been fantastic from the moment we started all those years ago. We soon picked up the State Energy Commission account, many mining, design, PR and advertising companies followed. Architects, magazines, property developers and state departments and agencies followed suit.
Fremantle Port was loyal to me for 15 years, the Midland Redevelopment Authority for 11, JAZ Creative became my family, and Cape Mentelle my drinking companion.
WA State Government gave me assignments for years and so did Government House. I was the official photographer for the visit of Princess Ann and travelled throughout the north of WA with her and shared her table for dinner in Kunnunara.
Some of my clients ended up in jail, because WA inc was not their greatest moment, but my business kept blossoming until the big change to digital photography introduced a lot of mediocrity to the industry.
I love my profession and have not ever regretted I became a photographer. I met so many great people and did so many great jobs and I learned so much about life, people and photography.
Today there is a new start in my professional life that is not only corporate, commercial and private photography but also the Roel’s Fremantle Photo Tours.
My motto FINDING BEAUTY IN THE ORDINARY has become my lifestyle, trying to enjoy the small precious moments in life, even in the difficult times.
I have always given my best, because when one works unsupervised it is too easy to cut corners, and at the end of each assignment only I knew if I had given it all the time it deserved, if I should have tried more angles, different light, got up earlier, or keep shooting later. I learned to be brutally critical about my work, to make sure I would never take an assignment or a client for granted. No doubt I messed up a few times, but looking back I believe I overall succeeded.
Today is a proud day for me, because I start again at an age where most people think about retirement. I love photography far too much to start looking for a rocking chair.
Check out the new website: http://www.roel.com.au