Freo's View

NO WOOLSTORES TOWERS PLEASE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on December 13, 2017

 

Mosman Park architect Carl Payne sent me a sketch and following contemplations about the proposed ten-storey mixed-use development of the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre.

I believe it is essential to have a public conversation about what appropriate and good architecture for Fremantle is, so want to share Carl’s thoughts with the Freo’s View readers.

Massing Study

 

My approach to design is generally inside-out; that is, the planning logic dictates the final external forms. However, I’ve just bent my rule to some extent.
This is because, when considering architectural solutions for sensitive historic streetscapes – such as Cantonment Street, I think it’s valid for an external “massing-approach” to be the starting point.

As Ken Adam said, existing heights could/should also play an important role.

For these reasons, I spent a few hours doing a massing solution – see attached sketch.

Its logic is partly determined by two walk-through arcades that I show on the plan. These assist connectivity for this large city block; and create large doorways on the street. (I’ve ripped off and adapted Murray Slavin’s new facade details in Cliff Street, as part of what could be an exuberant and sculptural design approach. Thanks Murray.)

The forms are totally conceptual – a building is not designed in 4 hours. But the massing approach; the “urban wall” approach; the reduced palette of materials; the height limitations based on the adjacent woodstores; etc etc, are worth further consideration.

And a site development as suggested by my quick esquisse – one that opens up two pedestrian corridors that would also service the new supermarket and other spaces; and which could even create internal courtyards for gathering; merchandising; and allow internal natural light etc – would also meet the total net development area as proposed by the current scheme, if carefully done.

Without the need for the towers. No towers please…………………………………!!

QUIET BEFORE THE STORM IN FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on December 5, 2017

 

Freo’s View readers are concerned that I might be sick or gone AWOL, as I have not posted many articles lately, but that is not the case. There is simply not much going on to report about in good old Femantle at present.

It’s the quiet before the Kings Square development storm and other major new development in the pipeline.

The demolition of the Queensgate building might still happen in December, but it might not, and the council building is due for demolition in January.

City of Fremantle staff will move to Fremantle Oval on December 18, so take note of that.

The Stan Reilly site has been flattened and they are now removing the rubbish to make way for a new 150+ bay car park.

MATCH has started the development of the former Energy Museum site at Parry Street.

Freo’s major concern remains inappropriate development where developers do not seem to care about the visual impact of the proposed new buildings, and the heritage significance of Fremantle.

It is a worry that the development laws are not stronger and more specific in that regard and that major development gets approved by state agencies.

Fremantle Council can only put a recommendation of refusal or approval to those agencies, but the statistics show that JDAP is very much pro developers and often ignores  what local councils want.

Two significant development proposals are coming before the Planning Committee tomorrow night so have your say!

Roel Loopers

WOOLSTORES PLANS NOT DISTINCTIVE OR EXCEPTIONAL

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, Uncategorized by freoview on November 27, 2017

 

Woolstores

 

Retired North Fremantle architect Ken Adams has submitted his opinion about the Fremantle Woolstores development by Silverleaf for the Fremantle Society, that deserves to be shared with the wider community

It is quite detailed and hence long, so I have edited it a bit, but it is still long for a blog post.

Below are his excellent expert thoughts and opinion about the massive development:

Total Redevelopment of the Site is Welcome and offers a Great Opportunity.
It should be clear that a total redevelopment of the site is not merely welcome; it is well overdue. The replacement of the original woolstores building by the existing banal shopping centre, car parking and open servicing areas was, in urban design and other terms, a complete and unrelieved disaster.

The decision to redevelop the entire site offers a wonderful opportunity to undo that mistake and create a very positive development that will serve and greatly enhance the city centre. The opportunity must not be missed, nor should it in any way be compromised by confusing what may be permitted with what is best for Fremantle

The issues dealt with here are:

  • whether the general character, including proposed use , scale and form, is appropriate;

  • whether the building heights proposed are appropriate and whether the development meets the criteria for design excellence; and

  • whether the more detailed architectural design aspects are appropriate.

 
Context is Everything
The site occupies a pivotal position in the city’s townscape and activities, mediating between the major woolstore buildings (now converting, appropriately, to residential use) and the central business (essentially retail, entertainment and office) district.

Both the uses and character of development proposed for the subject site must recognise this pivotal position.

There are two buildings that set the benchmark for the height and scale of what should occur on the site. These are firstly and most critically, the superb Goldsborough Mort and Company Woolstores building immediately north of the site. The second is the relatively recent and modern building on the SE corner of Queen and Goldsborough Streets. Whatever happens on the site must recognise both the scale and character of these two buildings.

General Character and Form of the Development
It seems to me that a mixed use development of the site is most appropriate, because the site does mediate between the essentially business and essentially residential precincts of the city. For that reason, I support, in general terms, the mix proposed, including the replacement of the major supermarket, market hall, offices, significant active-frontage retail and other uses and housing for both active young adults and predominantly retired people.

Provision of active uses at the street frontages of Cantonment and Queen Streets is especially important, and supported. Goldsborough Street, currently a pedestrian desert, also offers the opportunity to become an active and very attractive street in future, especially with a future re-use of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstore building.

In general terms the most appropriate precedents for the overall scale and form of the redevelopment of this pivotal site lie with the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building and in the memory of the site, itself a former wool store building of similar scale and mass to the Goldsborough Mort building and the other woolstores along Elder Place and Beach Street – the so-called “March of the Giants”.

These suggest a strong, perhaps even monolithic, well-defined mass. The proposed development largely achieves this, were it not for the superimposition of the two tower elements, one at either end, and the excessive size of gaps in the facades, compromising the continuity of the facades.

The unusually large size of the site also strongly suggests the provision of at least one public pedestrian access way through the site, in line with either the Westgate Mall entry, as proposed, or Point Street, or both.

This access way, however, should be completely permeable at ground level, ie it should provide a clear view through between Cantonment Street and Elder Place.

Building Height and Design Excellence
In my opinion the most beneficial height for development over the site would be set 
precisely at the level of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, creating a  beautifully proportioned streetscape in Goldsborough Street. This level would appear to be close to the level that would generally result from the 21m height limit.

From an urban design perspective the most desirable streetscape outcome is unquestionably to maintain a consistent building height/level based on the level of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building. The 21m height level appears to be a good approximation of this. No extension of height above this visible from the adjacent streets would improve the appearance of the building.

The two proposed blocks of additional height, one at each end of the development, almost doubling the height of the development at those places, create an awkwardly balanced and poorly proportioned architectural composition.

Far from being a beneficial element, as claimed by the applicant’s report, they are significantly detrimental to the urban design outcome. That’s from a purely urban design perspective.

In order to gain approval for the additional height it is necessary for the applicant to demonstrate that the outcome would represent “Distinctive Architectural Design and Exceptional Design Quality”. The architectural design of the complex as a whole, and of the additional floors, is competent, but no more so than must be expected of any architect.

Distinctive” and “Exceptional Design Quality”, by definition, are terms that cannot be applied to any but a relative handful of buildings.

To gain some idea of what is required to reach these heights, one needs to look at examples of highly regarded contemporary buildings, notably those that have achieved awards of excellence. In the City of Perth Council House and the new City Library come to mind, as do 40 William Street and the Central Park development.

In Fremantle perhaps the proposed Kings Square redevelopment might meet the test. Could anyone seriously argue that the proposed Woolstores redevelopment would stand proudly alongside these?
Competent and attractive as the proposed development may be claimed to be it is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality”, and hence does not pass the bar for the additional height concession.

It is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality” and hence does not pass the bar for additional height concession.

I believe that Ken Adams sums it up pretty well and it is also my opinion of the development proposal.

Development of the ugly site is very welcome, but it needs to be of very good architectural design quality, and sadly the proposal is mediocre and uninspiring. Silverleaf need to come up with something much better and more balanced, because the two towers on either side create a severe imbalance that would look awful.

I agree with Ken Adams that there is nothing exceptional about the architecture and hence discretionary additional height should not be granted by Fremantle Council or the DAP.

Ken Adams received the prestigious Architects Board Award. He headed the Urban Design Section of the Town Planning Department. He was a founding member of CityVision in 1987 and has been Chairman since 2001. He was the consultant responsible for the most comprehensive study of Fremantle, carried out in 1979-80 for the purposes of establishing a comprehensive strategy for the City.

Roel Loopers

 

NO MORE HERITAGE BY NEGLECT

Posted in city of fremantle, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on November 24, 2017

 

WA Heritage Minister David Templeman is serious about heritage protection. A bill will be introduced in parliament next week to stop Demolition by Neglect by uncaring property owners.

Fines of up to $ 1 million, or one year jail, and ongoing daily penalties of $ 50,000 are part of the new legislation that will be managed by the State Administrative Tribunal.

Under the legislation owners of heritage-listed buildings who don’t maintain the property will receive a Repair Notice that requires them to make buildings safe and secure to prevent further deterioration.

I would love Marilyn New woolstores eyesore in Fremantle’s Cantonment Street to be the first one to cop a huge fine as the Fremantle community has been held at ransom for over a decade.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE DEMANDS CREATIVE ARCHITECTURE!

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on November 8, 2017

 

MSC 1

MSC 2

 

It is slow news day in Fremantle today, so not much to blog about unfortunately.

But walking through Cliff Street this morning I admired the innovative architecture of the Mediterranean Shipping Company new building and the respectful way the old building has been restored to its former glory.

It is fantastic to see that North Fremantle Slavin Architects were allowed to design such a creative heritage of the future building by their client MSC, and I wonder why one of our major developers Silverleaf constantly puts up mediocre development proposals, such as the Woolstores shopping centre and Manning building sites.

Do Silverleaf’s designers not understand the importance of heritage and streetscape, or can’t they be bothered being considered about the unique character of the historic Fremantle inner city?

It is important in this context to hear what professional architect Carl Payne commented about the Manning Building proposal:

In terms of the scale of Village-Fremantle, this is a massive re-defining of a hugely-important central “super-block”. We need to preserve the maximum original structures as is reasonably possible, both externally and internally.
The brewery-barn takes a lot of important old rear buildings – some of the early residential sections of the original street-front commercial, so that’s always a worry, because we lose historic context.
If Council played harder-ball, the design brief could respond by converting these into inter-related “snugs”; like the cosy-corners in European and British pubs. It just needs some strength and commitment from Council; and some imaginative responses from the building designers and their client.
I’m sick of lose/lose.
What about win/win. It’s possible if we try hard enough.
My other additional preliminary comment is that we now have a chance to fully restore/reconstruct all original street verandas, yet we are being offered a banal boxy awning. Not good enough you building designers!!!

I want Mayor Brad to come out strongly; and NOT say that we need to encourage investment and therefore we need to give a little. Getting a bit sick of that from Brad.
He needs to make a stand on what IS acceptable; and what ISN’T acceptable. We can now look back on the last few “development years”……..and measure what is good; and what is not so good.
It’s not development versus museum town any more. Those arguments were had in the seventies.
We need to be more mature than that now.
If the building owners/developers wanna make a buck – fair enough, but not at the expense of the town; not at the expense of the heritage; not at the expensive of missing the point of what Fremantle has to offer.

We just don’t really get it – yet. We go away and look at old towns overseas – rave on about character; and history; and all that. Then we are happy with stuff that chips away at the edges to the extent that all this chipping finally removes what we wanted to keep in the first place. Death by a thousand chips. Will you have fish with that?

Aaaaahhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

———-

Re my earlier reference to a banal boxy awning – I see the drawings actually show a detail, and that includes verandah posts and wall brackets, so there’s a nod to “original” detail, but is this just a generic reference? Or have they done their photo research etc?? Is this authenticity? Or just Disney?
And gee, the Paddy Troy Mall now ends in a basement carpark entry. The road to cars-ville. City of Fremantle, just drop the car-parking requirements please. OR, maybe this is just a client-driven detail, for business-owners parking?? Either way, it just reduces the internal courtyard to roads and car-park access. Do we really want to do this??

 

Roel Loopers

THE BEAUTY OF FREMANTLE. COME VISIT!

Posted in bathers beach, city of fremantle, heritage, photography, Uncategorized by freoview on November 4, 2017

 

freo 2

 

 

I wandered around Fremantle’s lovely West End just before sun set on Friday and took some tourist photos of the beautiful late light.

 

Roel Loopers

NEW LIV AND FREO DIES A LITTLE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on November 3, 2017

 

 

The Fremantle LIV apartments built by Defence Housing along Queen Victoria and Quarry streets have reached the highest point of the building.

The development should be completed in just over 12 months and will provide a lot of new residential apartments in the inner city.

It is an utter shame that the architecture could and should have been so much better, and that the massive building could have been a inspiring entry statement to our port city.

Boring buildings are not very Freo at all!

It is time the City of Fremantle organised a forum with architects, city planners, the community, etc. to see how we can put better planning rules in place that will ensure better architecture in our city.

 

Roel Loopers

SITE SPECIFIC ARCHITECTURE A MUST FOR FREMANTLE

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

 

There was an interesting article on the property pages of the WEST AUSTRALIAN yesterday by senior architect Carmel van Ruth of the Office of the WA Government Architect about how good design is the foundation of infill development.

Van Ruth argues that urban infill has a significant impact on the public realm and the surrounding communities and needs to deliver improved site-specific outcomes.

I have been concerned for a long time that the importance of site-specific architecture in Fremantle and other character suburbs is something that seems to be lost on most developers and architects/designers, who just want to build something that might look good in Joondalup or Midland, but has no place in Fremantle. That attitude needs to change to guarantee we get outstanding modern Freo-specific architecture in Fremantle.

Innovative solutions will ensure that developers will receive discretionary addition height concessions from councils, van Ruth writes, and I believe Fremantle Council should have stricter rules for discretionary height.

Only really exceptional architecture should receive a reward in height for developers and will make them aware that only excellent design will be a win for the community and for them.

Van Ruth also writes that it requires skilled architects who understand the significance of infill development to get the desired outcomes. I totally agree with her, as the Fremantle example of poor architecture for development proposals is not acceptable.

 

Roel Loopers

FREO COMMUNITY DEMANDS GREAT ARCHITECTURE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on October 31, 2017

 

Woolstores

 

The latest boring and bland development proposal for the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre by Silverleaf has made me aware once again that planning laws, rules and regulations are not adequate to ensure quality development in Fremantle.

It is not the height that worries me most, although PSA 49 should never have allowed anything higher than 8-9 storeys in the CBD, but it is the uninspiring architectural blandness of the proposal that makes me want to pull my hair out in frustration.

I like it that Silverleaf develop the properties they acquire relatively fast, but they are major development players in our city and need to understand they have a corporate responsibility to the Fremantle community to build high quality development, and not run of the mill mediocrity.

Silverleaf has every right to want to maximise the investment dollar with height and floor space, and I do understand that the triple bottom line is a priority for them.

They will also be developing the Manning Arcade and Henderson Street justice and police complex and adjoining Warders Cottages in the near future, so they need to realise that they do have an obligation to leave outstanding buildings for future generations.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company could have built a boring four-storey concrete box in Cliff Street, but instead got North Fremantle Slavin Architects to design an exceptional building for them that is heritage of the future quality.

After community backlash and Council rejection of the proposal, Notre Dame University decided that their community responsibility demanded they start all over again with the design of the new School of Nursing and Midwifery, because they understand their corporate obligations to Fremantle.

Developers who want to invest in Fremantle do need to understand they have an obligation to embrace, respect and enhance the unique character of our city. The anything goes and it’s good enough attitude toward development is not tolerated by the community.

Architects and designers should create more Fremantle-appropriate architecture that shows sensitivity toward Freo’s uniqueness, and major developers such as Silverleaf should insist on outstanding design because the Fremantle community demands it.

Great development is a win win for all!

Development plans can be viewed on the City of Fremantle website.

Roel Loopers

NEW WOOLSTORES DEVELOPMENT PLANS

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on October 26, 2017

 

Woolstores

 

Brand-new plans for the development of the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre at Cantonment Street by Silverleaf are out and open for public submissions, so check out the City of Fremantle website.

The proposal is for a 4-10 storey mixed-use complex that would have shops, a market, a tavern, offices, student and aged-care accommodation, a carpark, etc.

There would be 799 car bays, 141 hotel rooms, 261 student accommodation and 155 retirement units.

 

Roel Loopers

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