Freo's View

FREMANTLE’S EXCITING FUTURE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government by freoview on December 12, 2016

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The residential development of the LIV apartments at Queen Victoria Street, opposite the just completed Heirloom by Match development, has started and what a delight it is to see the well-overdue modernisation of Fremantle’s East End.

Down the road at Princess May park the Hilton Doubletree hotel development should also start early next year and there are quite a few approved development projects that will commence in the area in the near future.

Together with the Kings Square development this gives me great hope for a brilliant Fremantle future and the revival of the retail, hospitality and tourism industry in our city.

I agree with the critics that a lot of the new development is boring and mediocre and that is a rotten shame, because Fremantle deserves to get creative and outstanding architecture that would become the heritage of the future, but sadly excellence in design is lacking often.

On another note, whenever I post something positive about Fremantle I get accused of having gone soft on Council so let me just make a few points. I am not a one-eyed Liberal, Labor, Greens, Socialist, Communist, Capitalist, Dockers, Eagles supporter and I do not have a political agenda. I consider myself to be a moderate with an open mind.

I don’t believe in God(s), chakras and healers but I do have great respect for the universe and nature and find my solace and inspiration there.

I also don’t have issues with vegetarians and vegans, as long as they don’t tell me what to eat, and I (barely) tolerate soy latte, non caffeine and skim milk coffee drinkers. ; >)

My aim is to try to be fair and balanced on this blog, but I have no doubt that I have failed a few times at that, because like Fremantle, the world, all humans and politicians I am not perfect.

I truly believe that renaissance is happening in Fremantle and that most of it is positive and good for our city. Many more people living and working in and visiting Freo will create an exciting vibrancy that has been lacking, and I am looking forward to it.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE’S GORGEOUS WEST END

Posted in architecture, fremantle, heritage, photography by freoview on December 3, 2016

 

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A photo I took around sunset yesterday of gorgeous Fremantle High Street.

Roel Loopers

HERITAGE OF THE FUTURE ARCHITECTURE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, perth by freoview on November 30, 2016

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I hopped on the train to Perth to listen to the free lunchtime Musical Morsels concert by WASO musicians at the Concert Hall there and on my way took some photos of the new Perth library.

What an exquisitely minimalist and classic building this is that would be a great iconic feature at Fremantle’s Kings Square. It’s the kind of heritage of the future architecture that I would love to see in Freo and it was designed by Freo architects Kerry Hill who also created the new Civic Centre for the City of Fremantle.

And the free WASO concert with cellist Louse McKay was superb and around 130 people were in the audience.

Roel Loopers

MORE IMPACT WITH BALANCED FREMANTLE SOCIETY

Posted in city of fremantle, community, development, fremantle society by freoview on November 28, 2016

The Fremantle Society will have its AGM on December 7 where president John Dowson will be re-elected unopposed.

The Society has played a very important role in protecting Fremantle’s heritage for more than forty years, but I believe it has lost its way by being too negative and too narrow focussed, and rumblings within the membership suggest that Downson’s anti-height, anti-development and anti-change rhetoric is wearing thin not only outside the Society but also among the community group’s members.

It is a shame that the negativity is making the Society irrelevant, as many people in the community, Councillors and CoF officers no longer take Dowson’s criticism serious and stop listening to what the Fremantle Society has to say about the future of Fremantle.

The Society needs to find some balance and a strong committee that will guide its president and stop the relentless negativity in the media, as it is counter productive.

I have no doubt at all that John Dowson means very well and that he is passionate about protecting Fremantle’s heritage, and so am I, but blaming Fremantle Council, particularly Mayor Brad Pettitt, for development rejected by CoF but approved by state agencies DAP or SAT, is unfair and makes one question the integrity of the Fremantle Society.

The Society always had a very strong voice and was respected and listened to and while it did not win all the battles, it has done some remarkable work. Instead of whingeing about a down pipe in the wrong location Dowson should have been proud of the great outcome of the Warders Cottages, for which FS fought so hard, and also for the Society’s achievement finally getting the Gunners Cottages at Cantonment Hill restored.

I agree with Dowson that a lot of new development in Fremantle is ugly and inappropriate and I will stand side by side with him and FS fighting the Notre Dame University proposal for the corner of High and Cliff streets and other mediocre and inappropriate buildings, such as the one proposed by the Yolk developers for the former Spotlight site in Adelaide Street.

The Society needs to do what it does best and find the right battles to combat instead of the blanket approach of no change, no height, no development, because Fremantle is in desperate need of residential, commercial and tourist development and the Society should be supportive of positive change and progress in our city.

I sincerely hope John Dowson and the new committee will find a more balanced and respectful way of expressing their views, so they have more impact and will be taken serious again.

Roel Loopers

HERITAGE AND DENSITY NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, councils, development, heritage by freoview on November 23, 2016

After my previous post about the Atwell Arcade development and previous posts about my objections to the Notre Dame University proposal for the West End, and my reservations about the height of the Quest Hotel, and the general lack of creativity of new buildings in Fremantle’s CBD, it is interesting to read in the West Australian today the opinion of heritage architect Philip Griffiths, who spoke at a Future Bayswater forum.

Griffiths told the audience that respecting heritage and promoting local development are not mutually exclusive, and mentioned the City of Fremantle as a local government that got a lot smarter about preserving heritage while encouraging well-designed density. I believe the well-design part of that sentence is controversial as Freo is mainly getting mediocrity in design.

Heritage is a reason to be careful about how we develop because we don’t want to create a sterile town, but it is not a reason not to do anything, the architect said. That should be a very important consideration for the City of Fremantle because so far we are getting boring new buildings!

According to the Property Council of WA there is strong support for medium and higher-density apartments near public transport hubs and in the inner city.

I personally have no issue with higher-density in appropriate locations around Fremantle and in the east CBD but somehow we need to give more power to the Design Advisory Panel, and planning rules need to address the visual impact of new buildings better, so that we can get very good and outstanding buildings, not the bland and boring ones that are being built and proposed now.

Creating a new modern part in inner city Fremantle is in my opinion desirable as it means many more people will live in the CBD and that will encourage new traders, bars, etc to open up shop and make Freo more vibrant, but we need to get great architecture!

Roel Loopers

NOTRE DAME MEDIOCRITY IS NOT VERY FREO

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, notre dame university by freoview on November 21, 2016

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What frustrates me most about the proposal by Notre Dame University to build a mediocre and inappropriate building in Fremantle’s historic West End is that UNDA are not just greedy developers but educators with a great history department who should know better.

We can witness in Perth what awful damage inappropriate buildings of the 60s, 70s and 80s have done to that city and I often receive comments about that at the Roundhouse from overseas and interstate visitors who are impressed with Fremantle’s heritage but not impressed with the blandness of Perth.

A university does have even more responsibility to be a good corporate citizen than other organisations and that is why it is staggering that the UNDA management accepts such a bland building from its architects.

Universities need to be innovative and push boundaries because they are education our future generations of leaders, so it is not acceptable for them to just put a glass box in a heritage precinct because they need more space for their medical department.

Edith Cowan University in Joondalup builds creative modern buildings there, so why does Notre Dame believe that boring mediocrity is good enough for Freo’s most beautiful precinct?!

Many developers have no respect for the unique character of Fremantle, but I do understand for them it is all about the triple bottom line and that most don’t give a rat’s arse about the beauty of Freo as long as the dollar signs keep flashing and their bank accounts bulge, but that should be different for a university which has a much greater responsibility to the community than ordinary developers.

For those who missed this comment to my blog by renowned award-winning Perth architect Jean-mic Perrine, here it is again:

Roel,

In an age of VIRTUAL everything, it is symptomatic of those who do not actually want the public to understand the true impact of a building to resort to an “artists impression” which is all this submission offered. 

I have dealt with heritage buildings for over 25 years. I say the following for one purpose only and it is not to gloat: From the Commonwealth Bank and GPO redevelopments in Forrest Place to the Heritage award-winning projects of the Leederville Post Office and Box Building, City of Perth inaugural Heritage award winner for interpreting modernity in a historically sensitive manner. Of course I recently completed the celebrated Terrace Hotel in the city, revitalising one of Perth’s oldest residential buildings into a luxury hotel.

I say the above to be able to give context to what I say now.

The proposal by NDU is inappropriate, poorly conceived and disrespectful of a heritage precinct. What is sadder is that it has little original architectural merit and reminds me of the lazy days of the 70’s when this sort of sketch allowed monstrosity to mushroom in our historic precincts.

Roel Loopers

DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED IN NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY

Posted in city of fremantle, development, heritage, notre dame university by freoview on November 19, 2016

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I am deeply disappointed that Fremantle Notre Dame University has decided to go ahead with the application for approval of a five-storey building on the corner of Cliff and High streets in the historic West End of town, and that they have not made any changes and compromises after the community consultation session last month.

Up until now I genuinely believed that UNDA had the best interest of Fremantle at heart, but it appears that they are just another organisation only interested in making money and not caring one iota about the damage the building will do to the appearance of the heritage-listed West End.

I feel personally taken for granted after submitting ideas for changes to the plans, set-backs, corner, etc. but that has all been ignored, presumably by the architects who believe they know everything better and who show little respect for Freo’s unique heritage character with this boring uninspiring building that lacks creative ideas.

While I appreciate very much that Vice Chancellor Professor Celia Hammond made the effort to attach a personal note to the letter I received from UNDA I do not believe that “We have spent the time since the community session carefully considering all community feedback and comment, re-examining our proposal and reviewing the expert advice received during the design and development stages.”

Fact is that UNDA was unwilling to compromise and will now try to ram through a highly inappropriate building in our heritage precinct, and hence they will lose my support and I will no longer promote UNDA events on Freo’s View or report about them.

I also want to point out to Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and the Councillors that you can not be prominent in the media all the time saying that you want to protect the West End while creating new density infill in the East End, but then approve buildings like this one by the university. This is an unacceptable proposal and needs to be rejected. Your overpaid Design Advisory Panel should have put the boot in before it progressed so far.

I  am very passionate about Fremantle’s heritage and will personally actively oppose at the October 2017 election the re-election of sitting members who approve this building and will use this very popular blog to make sure we will get people elected on Council who show more respect for Fremantle’s heritage!

Roel Loopers

LOOPY’S PREMATURE ARCHITECTURAL EVALUATION

Posted in architecture, development, fremantle by freoview on November 16, 2016

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Sometimes I can be an impatient little man, as my premature criticism of the building on the corner of Douro Road and Hulbert Street shows, so no wonder people call me an annoying little shit.

I was critical about the metal railing of the balconies on that building, but the architects have added a creative and very practical feature that makes well up for it. Large folding louvres can close off all or part of the balconies from the afternoon sun and sea breeze. I really like the warm and arty look of them and how sensible they are in our Freo climate.

There is also a street feature of large planter boxes that duplicate as seats and some glass/wood panels that soften the building sufficiently to make it look attractive from that corner.

Roel Loopers

THE FUTURE OF FREMANTLE’S KINGS SQUARE

Posted in city of fremantle, kings square by freoview on November 15, 2016

 

Here a few artist’s impressions of what the new buildings at Fremantle’s Kings Square might look like. From my experience one never knows because these creative drawings are often not very precise.

I don’t know how much longer I have to ask Fremantle Council to enforce that 3D images will be supplied with planning applications of significant buildings, especially in the CBD, so that we all know what we are getting, instead of the constant guess work of what buildings might look like.

Also congratulations to Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt who received a Honorary Fellowship from the Planning Institute of Australia together with Senator Scott Ludlam and former WA Planning Minister John day.

Roel Loopers

WEST END DEVELOPMENT STRIPTEASE

Posted in architecture, development, fremantle by freoview on November 9, 2016

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The two major developments in the Fremantle West End in Pakenham Street finally took off their protective clothes and showed themselves in full today.

The residential building on the corner of Bannister and Pakenham will never be an iconic building and it is not at all outstanding, but the open wide balconies at least don’t make it a suffocating development like the building next to it that looks like a carpark.

As I said to the architect who happened to be there, I would have preferred the industrial looking iron balcony fencing to be in the same red brick instead and frame them better. It is details like that which make a big difference.

I don’t see the height of the building as an issue as the heritage Fowler building opposite  it is even higher and there are other tall buildings along that street as my photo shows.

The Quest Hotel building down the road is almost near completion. I don’t mind the overall look, but dislike the blue artwork and I believe the building is three metres too high for that location.

Roel Loopers

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