Work is progressing well on the new office building of the Mediterranean Shipping Company-MSC in Cliff Street, Fremantle.
North Fremantle architects Murray Slavin designed the new building that will be connected to the old building on the corner and become accommodation for hundreds of MSC staff. It is due for completion later this year around September.
The City of Fremantle is seeking proposals for the commercial lease of the iconic Evan Davies Building which sits in the heart of the cappuccino strip.
The former KULCHA building above the DOME cafe includes a bar, stage, DJ box, open function space, office, male/female toilets, kitchen and a large balcony.
Proposals should include how it will add value to Fremantle and the community as well as demonstrate strong financial viability and a solid business plan. Proposals close Wednesday 8 April. Visit http://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/evandavieseoi
It’s finally happening! Contractors have started work on the renovations of the Fremantle Married Quarters cottages at Cantonment Hill. Four new residencies will also be built on the site that had been neglected for far too many years by the Department of Defence.
The cottages will be reinstated as living quarters for Defence personnel so that will help reactivate the area and minimise vandalism there. The gateway to Freo has been an eyesore for as long as I can remember, so it is not before time that something is finally done to look after the important heritage buildings.
Now hoping State Government will follow suit with the Warders Cottages and the National Trust with the Royal George Hotel.
One has to question the commitment to heritage preservation at all levels of government in Australia when one looks at the disgraceful state of neglect of three Fremantle sites.
The Department of Defence announced last year they would start renovating the Married Quarters cottages at Cantonment Hill in November but nothing is happening there and the place is an eyesore as an entry statement to our city.
Not far from there the National Trust has custody over the Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle and we were told last year that they had a tenant and the place would become office accommodation. Nothing is happening there either, as these photos that I took on Tuesday morning show.
Premier Colin Barnett made a big media announcement sometime late September last year about the State setting up a heritage fund and he promised the first properties that would be restored were the Warders Cottages next to the Fremantle Markets, but there are no tradies within a cooee of the place.
We keep getting promises but the status quo of utter neglect remains and that is not acceptable! It is not acceptable that Fremantle looks uncared for because government departments neglect their duty of care on our important heritage buildings. Promises are not good enough and the Freo community wants to see action now!
W.A. Premier Colin Barnett conceded on ABC radio this morning that he had failed with the local government reform and had put the white flag up. A big concern though should be Barnett’s remark that the government would take more responsibility on matters such as local government planning, which could mean taking more power away from local councils on planning decisions, so less opportunity for the community to have an impact.
That would be very dangerous, because the State’s DAP-Development Assessment Panel has overruled many local council decisions and allowed for inappropriate buildings to be erected at the loss of local amenity and unique identity. We can’t allow that to happen!
The City of Fremantle should follow the lead of the Perth Design Advisory Committee, who have recommended that the City of Perth introduces a strategy to address the architectural quality of new development. Both cities often approve very mediocre buildings, that have little to none architectural merit and that lack creativity and grandeur because developers are more interested in fast and cheap than in beautiful and great.
The Perth DAC said that building applications “often do not demonstrate a finesse, expertise or mastery of design.” The DAC also said that developers are not interested in the amenity, layout or interface with the public realm. That is very much the kind of criticism development in Fremantle often receives from the public and community groups.
One of the main problems I see in Fremantle is the pressure put on Council by developers who threaten to walk away from development unless it is approved fast and additional height granted. Councillors panic and rather approve mediocrity than not getting the much-needed development. The impact on the streetscape, the heritage amenity, the lack of public open space are all pushed aside and too often we hear Elected Members say in Chamber that the changes to the plans are ” close and getting there” and that the application should be approved, although it is far away from excellence.
Because we had so little development in Fremantle for many years, Councillors and Planning staff appear too eager to compromise and let developers get away with boring and inappropriate buildings, some even citing the development’s economic viability as a reason to approve a bland building instead of insisting on outstanding architecture.
Developers often complain about the long process of planning approval, but there is a good and fast way around that; submit plans for great buildings from the start and don’t try to get away with murder by applying for inappropriate height and bulk that has no reference to or respect for the amenity of our city!
Buildings of architectural excellence attract people to cities, while ugly and boring ones deter visitors, so in the long run insisting on high quality buildings is better for the City’s economy.
I hear that the redevelopment plans for the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre site are very disappointing and that the City of Fremantle is negotiating with owners Silverleaf to get drastic changes to the design and improve the plans considerably.
It would be a real shame if the redevelopment was mediocre because the site is so significant opposite the railway station. The shopping centre has been suffering from vacancies, anti social behaviour and is very unappealing, bland and boring, so creative changes have to be made to make it far more attractive to the public and shoppers.
Silverleaf under Gerard O’Brien is a major player in property development in Fremantle, already owning the Target building, the one opposite of it, the Atwell Arcade and others, and they are also putting a Brazilian restaurant in High Street next to the National Hotel.
Unlike other people in Fremantle, who are a bit paranoid about development, I quite like the can do attitude of Gerard O’Brien, but I hope he will listen more to what the community and Council want for Fremantle and work closely with the Elected Members, Planning staff and the Design Advisory Committee. Freo needs developers like O’Brien who gets things done, rather than the procrastination of Sirona Capital at Kings Square, because we are running out of time to revitalise the CBD and get retail activation going.
An interesting note from overseas: If the American trend continues in Australia shopping malls might become something of the past, with predictions that 80% of US shopping malls will close by 2050.
PSAS-the Pakenham Street Art Studios-have a new exhibition that is very relevant to Fremantle. Artist Zora Avila questions in her exhibition Next Level Bullshit when-or if-graffiti is art and if tagging is just like dogs leaving their marks. Is good graffiti art-when not commissioned-still just simple vandalism or is it an expression of rebellion and unhappiness with society?
Here is the media blurb from PSAS:
Next Level Bullshit is a reflection of the confluence of architectural structure and order both designed for, yet often broken by, its very inhabitants. It asks the question: Is graffiti endemic to cities enlightenment, expression and art, or is it nothing more than ego and destruction? Is tagging no more artistic than a dog cocking its leg on a building to mark its territory?
Post-modern commentary has sought to elevate graffiti and street “art” from pure vandalism to reflective art, highlighting the local vernacular. But is that just some next level bullshit? Is destruction simply destruction? Who decides if vandalism is art or damage? Why is the “art” of a graffiti artist revered as beautiful, while tagging by a gang so maligned?
An award-winning artist, born in the United States and a child of the 80’s, Avila is influenced by that period of popular culture, which is expressed in her work. At a young age, she developed a love of architecture, light and geometric form. The conformity to these rules of geometry, contrasted against bold expression and unrestraint, is the foundation of Avila’s visual language.
The exhibitions opens tonight at 6.30 and will run till February 14. PSAS have got the very good Studio 37 Cafe at ground level, so enjoy and relax.
It has been a very pleasant summer in Fremantle so far with the early sea breeze keeping the temperatures down on most days and making the nights balmy. I took these photos of the Maritime Museum and Indian Ocean at sunset yesterday. They make for a good start of the mid week.