Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has summarised his fact-finding visit to some of the most liveable European cities on his blog and I have copied it here with my remarks and suggestions in Italic bold. I believe this should be a discussion the Fremantle community needs to have and a think tank would be nice to sit around with a few experts but also lay people like myself who are interested in urban design:
Brad Pettitt: Taking the European lessons learned and where Perth is at today I decided to have another go at defining the key ingredients of liveable and sustainable new developments. I think it is not as hard as is often make out and that these key ingredients can be narrowed down to a ten simple ingredients. These ingredients or perhaps commandments, however, are not etched on stone tablets so I’d appreciate your feedback on what I might be missing: Ten Ingredients for liveable and sustainable urban design:
- Gentrification is not the same as rejuvenation. Mandate a diversity of housing types, sizes and levels of affordability.
Roel: Gentrification is the rejuvenation of old run down buildings and in larger buildings, e.g. the Woolstores opposite Clancys, has the opportunity for diverse housing that would rejuvenate that area.
- Invest in high quality public parks and spaces for people to meet and recreate in. Make space for spontaneous community to flourish and especially for children to enjoy.
Roel: Small surprises scattered around the city for children so they can explore and discover and linger and do activities, but not massive playgrounds was something we talked about with David Engwicht when he had community sessions in Fremantle, but nothing has come from it.
- Plant street trees and lots of them. Trees are wonderfully generous towards even the dullest modern architecture.
Roel: We have very few trees in the CBD and that should be improved. It breaks up the monotony of building facades and streetscapes. Beach Street and High Street east could be tree-lined welcoming boulevards for example.
- Activate the street level with ground level shops and cafes. There should be a different business every ten metres on high streets and these ground floor usages should be diverse, meet local needs and be open diverse hours. This is essential to creating a “cities of short distances”.
Roel: Retail diversity, good shop fronts and window displays are missing in Fremantle, and Notre Dame University still occupies too much ground level space that needs to be activated in the West End. It has been part of the Memorandum of Understanding with UNDA for years now, but they have done little to implement reactivation of their ground level properties. That is disappointing.
- Embed sustainability features into the design from the start. Water and fossil fuel based energy is going to be a lot more expensive in coming decades and our designs should plan to be future proof.
Roel: Why can’t we start in Fremantle with a policy that requires all new buildings to have solar energy and rain water collection. It would make a big difference over time.
- Embed high quality and high frequency public transport into the development from the start. Preferably light rail or street cars that create investor certainty and influence a denser built form.
Roel: I love trams/light rail, but Fremantle does not have the population numbers for it yet to make it financially viable for private investors. The short-distance shopping experience with more localized deli’s etc. should be encouraged.
- Traffic calm streets. Keep cars to fringe of residential developments or at least design them so cars don’t dominate. Local streets are for people so make cars last in the transport hierarchy.
Roel: This is what they do so much better in many European cities. Prioritising pedestrian amenity in local streets and making safe places for kids to play in the streets is the way to go. Laneway access to carports instead of street access would be good where it can be done.
- Waste removal and storage needs to be well planned and designed into new developments so high levels recycling can occur and other waste turned into energy not just landfilled.
Roel: Waste removal away from streets and maybe create collection points could be something we should look at.
- Greater urban density is essential for our centres to be more liveable and sustainable. Global evidence suggests there is a sweet spot between 4 and 8 floors. There is no need to obsess over the height of buildings though; it’s normally not the most significant amenity factor if you get the rest right.
Roel: Height should not be the main factor of concern, but design and building quality should be. We in W.A. compromise far too fast and approve bland, boring, mediocre, and really unacceptable, design and that does not make our cities more liveable. What we need is diversity, higher density and outstanding design, the heritage of the future we keep hearing about but that is never built. The City of Fremantle Council, the Planning Department and the Design Advisory Panel need to show a stronger front and tell developers that Fremantle does not want mediocre concrete boxes.
Brad: Mandate and integrate the above. This requires risk and leadership but future residents will thank you for it.
There are community concerns about the micro-brewery and mixed-use development proposed for the former Fremantle Energy Museum site at 12 Parry Street with some people worried about a pub so close to St Patrick’s and local schools.
While I don’t see a big problem having a micro brewery and restaurant there I do believe the proposed five-storey residential building behind it is too bulky and high for the location, as it is surrounded by low-rise heritage buildings such as the Basilica and the former school buildings at Princess May Park. The bulk of the building would have a big impact on the also heritage-listed residence behind it at 3 Quarry Street.
One also needs to question the need to demolish the Easter part of the Energy Museum building, as it should remain intact, and architects will just have to work around that.
There is a lot of development going on in the East of the CBD and that is a good thing, especially since there will be more people living in that run down part of town, but there is also a charm about many of the older buildings in the area that needs to be respected. The proposed mixed-use development behind the Energy Museum does not show respect for or reflect on the heritage of the site and the surrounding buildings.
The Fremantle Council’s Planning Services Committee will on Wednesday deliberate if it will follow the officer’s recommendation and ask the State’s South-West Joint Development Assessment Panel to reject the application by German- based ALDI to develop the shopping centre site on the corner of South Street and Ethelwyn Street in Hilton, because the new giant supermarket would turn its back to South Street.
The officer believes the development proposal by Aldi is detrimental to the amenity of the area in relation to the lack of street-level pedestrian based activity as it presents to South Street.
The new development would more or less show its bum to South Street with a blank wall and airconditioner units and not integrate with the IGA supermarket on the other side of South Street.
The Chair of the City of Fremantle’s Design Advisory Panel suggests to turn the development by 90 degrees so the entry to the ALDI supermaket would be at the corner of Ethelwyn and South streets and open up opportunities for both streets to develop into a shopping precinct. He also suggests a multi-storey mixed development would be better and in line with plans the COF has for the area.
South Street in that vicinity is also earmarked by Mainroads for widening, so it is imperative that integrated plans for the Hilton area will be made instead of piecemeal bit by bit planning and development, as a pedestrian overpass or tunnel might well be appropriate if the area develops into a residential and commercial precinct.
I believe the suggestion to turn the development so it interacts better with South Street is good and ALDI should take it on and create a better and more substantial building there.
Two very different photography shows open Friday June 5 at the Fremantle Arts Centre, so all you photography and art fans out there make sure to view them.
Curated by Susan Hill, the works in QUIET MOMENTS feature strange scenes, peculiar figures and random objects from everyday life combined in unexpected ways. Rich in colour, hidden meaning and metaphor, viewers are invited to contemplate the images and project their own day dreams into the scenes.
Quiet Moments features some of the UK, Europe and Australia’s premier photo artists: David Bate (UK), Jane Burton (VIC), Christophe Canato (WA), Kate Hamilton (UK), Estelle Hanania (FRA), Susan Hill (WA), Sascha Weidner (GER) and Christopher Young (WA)
The second show is by John Gollings who is Australia’s most celebrated architectural photographer, documenting every iconic new building in Australia over the last forty years. Although best-known for his images of the built environment, he has also undertaken a number of landscape projects throughout his career, photographing lost cities and areas of destruction.
AFTERMATH features stunning aerial landscapes taken after the Black Saturday bushfires tore through Victoria in 2009. Gollings’ haunting images demonstrate the effects on the land itself, we see it stark, stripped and vivid.
This is a touring exhibition from McClelland Sculpture Park+Gallery (VIC).
There is exciting gossip from the retailers at the Fremantle Woolstores Shopping Centre site about the imminent development of the place, although it has to go to Council and the State’s Development Assessment Panel, for approval.
I was told yesterday that a multi-storey mixed-use building is planned with the retail section, including Coles, moving to what now is the car park. The present retail area would become a David Jones department store and if that was to be the case that would be a stunning success for Fremantle.
The carpark would be moved to upper levels and commercial floor space would dominate the development with only residential apartments that will have harbour and ocean views planned for the northern side of the building.
The building would also have a walkway over the rail line to Victoria Quay, according to the traders I talked with.
This is a very different proposal than the one the previous owners had for hundreds of apartments, that pushed Council to allow for additional height on the site. I was not told how high the new proposal is.
This would all be very positive for Fremantle if the building has outstanding architectural design and building quality, but it could have negative impact on the Kings Square development that seems years away, because the Woolstores office floor space could be competing with Sirona Capital trying to find major tenants for the former Myer building.
Just over the road at the Point Street carpark site the banners with the Hilton Doubletree signs have been removed and that is a slight worry. I hope there is no delay in that development as it is essential to the revitalisation of the inner East of the Freo CBD.
There are rumours on Facebook that the Shanghai-Up Markets- building next to the Sail&Anchor is going to be demolished and the site developed, but Freo Mayor Brad Pettitt posted on FB that he had not heard about it yet, so time will tell.
I love Fremantle’s heritage buildings and can’t get enough of High Street, and all tourists visiting the Roundhouse agree with me on the beauty of the West End of Freo. But I also love modern architecture when it is outstanding, creative, quirky, challenging and even a bit mad.
Sadly we get a lot of bland concrete boxes, like this one on Queen Victoria Street, and do not see a lot of inspiring great architecture in the Perth metropolitan area and I wonder what it would take for a developer to be brave and build something out of the norm, like this building in Prague by architect Frank Gehry.
I went to a CUSP organised One Planet talk at Victoria Hall yesterday that coincided with this morning’s blog on Malmo by Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, who is on one of those fact finding tours to liveable cities. Brad raves about what the city has done and believes that some of it could be implemented on the Works Depot site at Knutsford/Amherst streets.
At Victoria Hall Dr Vanessa Rauland gave a talk on carbon, and she will do carbon classes in Fremantle schools as well in the future. Also speaking was Katy Anketel from the South Fremantle Senior High School and the City of Fremantle environmental officer whose name I don’t know.
Most of what I heard yesterday, and what Brad Pettitt wrote on his blog, makes sense, but I am skeptical about how we can change the ingrained Australian culture of the Great Australian Dream, and single storey houses with front and backyards, and the car and waste culture we have in our country. Only education will change that so Vanessa Rauland’s school education will be a good start, but it will also mean that probably this is going to be slow change that won’t happen overnight.
There is no doubt for me that we need to learn to embrace higher density in our cities and as long as the buildings are well designed and human scale I have no problem with it. It is essential that high density buildings along traffic corridors are well sound proofed and emphasis should be on human comfort and amenity and public spaces, roof gardens, etc.
We also need to insist that developers design large residential areas so that houses can be built to take advantage of the sun, and I am all for legislating that new dwellings need to have solar power and rainwater tanks, and maybe some form of grey water use. We also need to insist that houses are being built properly with double glazing, and insulation against heat, cold and noise. The way buildings are positioned and designed for our climate will also make a big difference.
Brad Pettitt writes that the former port area in Malmo has been designed to exclude garbage trucks and that waste is sucked to areas outside the suburb where trucks can pick it up. Great idea, but it will add cost to buildings, so maybe government incentives could be introduced here in Western Australia.
There is a lot we can learn from how countries with high population are attacking the carbon and other environmental problems, but we need to stay away from comparing Fremantle with cities that are very different and much much larger. If we remain realistic we can make the changes needed that will have a big impact.
Dr Vanessa Rauland suggested it is better to do things on a smaller scale as we have more control over it and it might become more achievable as well. The solar farm in South Fremantle will be a good example of what a community can do, while a windfarm is probably done better the way they do it in Victoria where councils combine and work together to buy a large area well away from their communities and put a windfarm there.
There are a lot of exiting things we can do to stop the madness of waste and pollution and we need to start with education and communication that is realistic and leave ideology at home. I really enjoyed the talks at Victoria Hall yesterday and was inspired by them.
Whilst we are all waiting on and whinging about the delayed Kings Square development, elsewhere in Fremantle things are happening and that is great to see.
Fantastic to read in the West Australian today that the Heirloom by Match residential development of the former Dalgety Woolstores site will start this week. The $ 130 million development of the 90-year-old building will see 183 new apartments housing approximately 250 new residents. It will be completed by 2017.
Match will also do a mixed-use development of the Energy Museum site just down the road. A few metres from there a residential and commercial ground level building at Queen Victoria/Quarry streets is getting there fast, and around the corner the former International Backpackers is being transformed into the Australia Hotel.
Talking about hotels, the Hilton Doubletree at Point Street should start in due course and the short-stay Quest Hotel at Pakenham Street had a start but appears now stagnant.
More development will happen on the Woolstores shopping centre site, the Synagogue building next to Fremantle Oval, the Atwell Arcade development is well under way, and the Pakenham/Bannister Street carpark residential building will be built soon as well.
Far out West the new Mediterranean Shipping Company building is nearing completion around September, so there is a lot going on in our city, and these are very positive signs for the revitalisation of the inner city..
A walk trail map to discover Fremantle’s sites of cultural significance is being planned by the Office of Multicultural Interest, which recently launched three of the trails for the Perth CBD, Northbridge and East Perth. Check them out here: http://www.omi.wa.gov.au/trails.cfm
The Discover Multicultural Perth project so far involves three maps that highlight the cultural diversity and uncover the history behind some of the city’s best known landmarks. It leads people through parks and past monuments, places of worship, past buildings, grocery stores and artworks.
Sounds like a brilliant idea to me. I assume the maps will be available on mobile phones and tablets, so let’s hope the Freo walk trail map will be released soon.
Word from State Government is that the Fremantle Warders Cottages in Henderson Street are now owned by the Heritage Council of Western Australia and the conservation and reactivation works managed by the State Heritage Office.
Henderson Street excavation from the Queensgate carpark to the Fremantle Markets will be essential to improve drainage in the area.
The newly installed taxi rank in Henderson Street is considered to be an obstacle to the reuse and reoccupation of the heritage cottages. The State Heritage Offices have started discussions with the City of Fremantle about relocating the rank. The new taxi rank trial was an expensive exercise that now looks to have to be abandoned so the cottages can be rented out. What a waste of time and effort!
The most likely outcome of a feasibility study has identified that the cottages will probably be rented out for residential and short-stay accommodation.
It is anticipated that the cottages will be offered for lease on the market in 2016.