Freo's View


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on March 17, 2018


Parry 1

Parry 2


Finally a building application for Fremantle that passes my visual beauty test.

The plans for a four-storey mixed-use development at 18-26 Parry Street look pretty cool and different to me.

It will be tourist and residential apartment accommodation and cafe.

Check it all out at Have Your Say on the City of Fremantle website.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, planning, Uncategorized by freoview on March 14, 2018


There is a big conundrum about development in Fremantle and elsewhere. The difficult question about urban infill in older character places is how much, how big, how high, how good, what kind of and when to stop.

We are getting very confusing messages from people, with many moving from WA to Melbourne because it is so European, whatever that means, while I read that many people in Sydney want to move out and go to Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane because Sydney is getting too big, traffic too mad and property prices too high.

Feedback from tourists is that most of them love Fremantle but are not impressed with the bland mediocrity of many of the new buildings in Perth, while they adore Freo’s gorgeous heritage West End.

What is good and appropriate development for Fremantle and how much is needed? We can forever argue about what we like or not but for example the development of the dormant Henderson Street in connection with that of Kings Square and the future development of Fremantle Oval is a good thing I believe.

One can rightly question though if the massive planned Woolstores shopping centre development and the eight-storey Little Lane on the Spotlight site are just a bit too much for Fremantle and overkill.

Does Fremantle need more highrise apartment buildings or should is start encouraging micro lots of around 100sqm for terrace housing/townhouses, that would suit our inner city much better.

I believe it is all about balance, but developers and city and state planners are not getting the right mix in my opinion.

I left Sydney in 1985 because real estate was simply unaffordable there while house prices in Perth were very cheap then, and it looks like this is still going on, although Fremantle is relatively expensive to move to.

It is time the WA state government organised a symposium on how much and what kind of development is needed, so that it can give better guidance to developers and local councils and its own JDAP and SAT.

It is imperative to show real respect for character cities like Fremantle, Subiaco and others and develop with restraint. To keep pushing for urban infill when the targets might be unrealistic will be detrimental to the uniqueness of our heritage cities.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on February 24, 2018


The Fremantle Herald this week is full with opinions about how to protect Freo’s unique character when it comes to approving new development.

My old North Fremantle mate and former chair of the City’s planning committee Gerry MacGill says that Fremantle’s Councillors are struggling with the concept of exceptional architecture that grants developers discretionary additional height.

MacGill believes Council should not just rely on the opinion of the Design Advisory Panel but that the elected members are eminently qualified to make judgements on how the Woolstores development integrates with the surrounding streetscape and nearby buildings in regard to scale, massing and height.

I too found that at the special planning meeting Councillors and the Chair of the DAP were more concerned about small picture things and semantics like adding more bricks, than about the big picture; if the proposed building actually fits in well with the unique Fremantle character.

Also in the Chook is an opinion piece by architect Carl Payne, who often comments on Freo’s View.

Payne writes that the Manning Building approval shows that we only pay lip-service to heritage and that heritage protection is often not imposed if it affects the building’s owner.

The architect writes that the actions of Fremantle Councillors are not consistent with the Burra Charter heritage ideals and that compromises are made too easily to appease developers.

I am aware that a team from North Fremantle Slavin Architects also had a meeting with Mayor Brad Pettitt talking about their concerns about the often inappropriate architecture Council is approving in the CBD.

But there is more in the Herald with a full page advertisement by the Fremantle Society, which shows photos of buildings they believe ‘work’ and building which do not work. It comes as no surprise that there is not a single high building FS likes.

There is no doubt in my mind that Fremantle Council is bending over backward to accommodate development in Fremantle, and while I absolutely support the rejuvenation of the ugly east CBD Council needs to do a lot more to protect our city’s beauty. The architecture of the planned Woolstores development is not anywhere near good enough to consider it to be of exceptional quality, because it insufficiently addresses and respects Fremantle’s unique character. It’s not the height that worries me most, but the aesthetic incompetence.

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on February 14, 2018




What a coincidence to just see an article on Facebook about a rooftop garden on a Melbourne shopping centre, when I only yesterday talked with North Fremantle architect Murray Slavin about the opportunity lost to do something similar with the proposed Woolstores shopping centre development in Fremantle.

Besides the poor design qualities of the proposed development, Murray and I both lamented that a rooftop garden for residents and hotel guests on top of the four-storey carpark had not been included in the development, as that would lift it to another level.

I also sugested that to indicate the bulk of a woolstores the two towers of the development could be linked at the top with massive steel beams, so that there is an impression of bulk, but it does not fill up the space above the carpark.

Unfortunately we are getting very conservative and rather boring new development in Fremantle and that is partly to blame on a council that is so keen on economic recovery that it is willing to compromise far too easily on the beauty and aesthetics of new buildings.

Fremantle is unique and that unique character needs to be acknowledged with creative and outstanding design!

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, heritage, roundhouse, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on February 1, 2018




The clouds over Fremantle created an unpleasant humidity for the Roundhouse volunteers and the sea breeze came in rather late and quite weak, so it was a bit of a struggle for just two of us.

But school holidays are over so it was rather quiet anyway. Nice view though.

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, planning, Uncategorized by freoview on January 26, 2018



A City if Fremantle Special Planning Committee will be held on January 31 to consider the design and planning principles for the proposed development of the Woolstores shopping centre site.

Silverleaf Investments is proposing a 4-10 storey mixed use development that will be a public carpark, shops, hotel, offices, student accommodation and aged and dependant persons accommodation.

The agenda states that the planning officers and Design Advisory Committee believe the plans have merit to develop into a scheme capable of satisfying the scheme provisions to exceptional design quality, which I find hard to believe

While I quite like the modern and light five-storey container shape with porthole windows idea for the hotel there is a severe disconnect to the red brick four-storey podium it is resting on.

The rest of the very large building is boring, plain, sombre, unimaginative standard red brick nothingness that does not qualify at all to get design excellence standards, and surprisingly the officers recommend to increase the use of red bricks, which will just enhance the darkness of the building and increase its blandness.

Woolstores 2

Here some snippets from the agenda:

The design and planning principles this report will consider are as follows:

  •   The proposed brick podium component of the development and its empathetic response to the scale and architectural character of the adjacent Elders Woolstores
  •   The Hotel building located at the Queen Street end of the site and the Aged Care (Retirement Living) building located at the Goldsbrough Street end of the site particularly the external appearance of the upper floors of these buildings.
  •   The location, design and activation of the proposed mid-block pedestrian link.
  •   The presentation of the proposed development to the corner of Queen Street and

    Elder Street, specifically the interaction of the Hotel lobby with Queen Street.

Brick Podium

The proposal includes the construction of a brick podium base to the development of approximately 4-5 storeys in height, extending across the whole site. The DAC has been consistent in its encouragement to the applicant to respond more emphatically to the scale and ‘weight’ of the remaining former Woolstores building on Elder Place.

The applicant has been encouraged to use brick as a utilitarian and structural element of the proposal to produce a meaningful representation of the scale and ‘weight’ (in an architectural sense) of the adjacent Elders Woolstores. The current concept uses brick as the primary material for the podium, however its use has evolved more into a decorative screen rather than an essential structural element of the podium. The proposed use of brick as a primary material is still supported, however the applicant is encouraged to develop the design of the podium as discussed below.

In my opinion the overall visual appeal of the building is very disappointing, with only the hotel component as a stand out of modern architecture, while the rest is 1970s design that is unbecoming to modernising the boring east of the Fremantle CBD.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, art, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on January 10, 2018


An interesting flaw in the City of Fremantle’s Percentage for the Arts or Heritage policy came to light during the Planning Committee on Wednesday evening.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson made the very sensible suggestion that the percentage should be used to reinstate the wrought-iron verandahs on the Manning Buildings when they are developed, but was told it is not possible to use the percentage for the arts/heritage on a private building.

I had just written down that the Quest Hotel and another Pakenham Street development both have percentage for the art works attached to their buildings, when Silverleaf director Gerard O’Brien made exactly the same point to the Councillors.

The percentage for the arts and heritage policy was introduced to enhance and beautify the public realm, and Councillor Rachel Pemberton made the realistic observation that verandahs are very much in the public realm.

It is absolutely non-sensical that building owners and developers cannot spend percentage for heritage and arts money on beautifying the public realm with heritage features, but are forced to spend it on often pretty mediocre and uninspiring art that can be attached to their buildings.

Developers tell me that a lot of the money from percentage for the arts is spend on administration and art consultants, and not on the actual art work, so let gets some reality in a policy that is clearly flawed and needs to be amended, so that we can encourage developers to reinstate verandahs, which look much better than modern awnings.

It would be a win win for all!

And to make it clear! I love great public art and believe the percentage for the arts and heritage is good, but it needs to be realistic and flexible.

There are many silly rules and regulations in our planning laws and some of them are detrimental to achieving the best outcome. All the community wants is the very best building outcomes, not silly bureaucratic nonsense.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on January 8, 2018




Fremantle Society president John Dowson has the uncanny ability to discredit himself by making ridiculous statements, as the rant below, which he sent to FS members about the LIV apartment development at Queen Victoria Street shows.


Communist East Berlin Apartment Block Arrives

The raft of damaging oversized buildings is underway in Fremantle with the arrival of the East Berlin Communist inspired “Liv” apartment block in Queen Victoria Street opposite the “Giant of Fremantle”, the former Fort Knox wool store, the largest wool store left in Fremantle.

To allow the “Giant of Fremantle” to be overshadowed by an apartment block next to it is appalling planning and decision making, a failure of councillors to grasp very basic fundamentals of urban planning. 

The development suits the ideology of Fremantle Council, because the extensive number of low cost dwellings will largely be Labor voters.


The deciding authority for the $ 61 million development was the WA Joint Development Assessment Panel, if my memory serves me correct, and not Fremantle Council, because all development over $ 10 million automatically is moved on to JDAP.

Dowson must not have visited the former East Berlin and East Germany often when he claims the building is of the former communist country standards.  The LIV is built to One Planet green sustainability standards, and while I am not impressed either with the architecture it looks a whole lot better than the ugly dark concrete boxes they used to put up in East Berlin.

The six-storey LIV is a little higher than, but does not overshadow the very imposing HEIRLOOM woolstores over the road, but the length of the building is the issue and the facade should have been broken up a few times instead of just the one walk-through piazza to Quarry Street.

Only a wealthy person would claim that the building is for low cost occupation by Labor voters, when a small one-bedroom sells for over $ 400,000, a two-bedroom starts at $ 545,000 and a three bedroom for over one million dollars.  The building is developed by Defence Housing Australia and defence personnel will be occupying the apartments, as well as private owners.

The juxtaposition of old Heirloom and modern LIV on either side of Queen Victoria Street will make for an interesting entry statement to Fremantle when LIV is completed in August this year. It will show visitors that Fremantle is on the way to long-overdue modernisation of the run down east of the CBD.

But in general I would like to see much better, more innovative and creative architecture in Fremantle than what we are getting. The issues are not with Fremantle Council but with soft State planning laws that do not give deciding authorities the option of rejecting building approval on aesthetic grounds. I wished that would be changed to guarantee great modern design instead of mediocrity.


Roel Loopers




Posted in art, city of fremantle, photography, Uncategorized by freoview on January 5, 2018



There is not much news to report in good old Freo as Council is only returning to meetings from next Wednesday on, so here a few recycled arty photos I have taken over the years.

Roel Loopers


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


Only one more sleep and we are starting a new year, which will be a very significant one for Fremantle.

I am very optimistic about the future of our delightful port city, as 2018 will be a year of transition, change and consolidation for Freo.

Major development will start early in the year at Kings Square and other massive development is in the pipeline.

The large LIV apartment building at Queen Victoria Street will be completed toward the end of the year, and the Warders Cottages boutique hotel will be built next to the Fremantle Markets.

One of the major development players in town is Silverleaf, which are embarking on the huge development of the Woolstores shopping centre site, the Manning Building and the Police and Justice complex at Henderson Street.

Being one of the major developers responsible for future building Fremantle Silverleaf does not only have a real opportunity to make a big impact, but also have an obligation to create beauty and character in the CBD.

Silverleaf, Match, Sirona Capital, and other developers can create history by building exceptional heritage of the future buildings of creative architecture and old-fashion craftsmanship pride.

Cheap and cheerful concrete boxes with a bit of cladding to make them more appealing are not very Freo at all, and should be refused. There needs to be softness and roundness instead of square hard corners, and lovely features that makes building attractive.

Building modern Fremantle just a stone’s throw from the old heritage town comes with responsibility to do more than just watching the triple bottom financial line for investors. It comes with community demand for outstanding design and respect for Freo’s character and lifestyle.

It is just mindset and goodwill that are the difference between building boring mediocrity or classy high-quality eye-catchers!

Roel Loopers


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