Freo's View

WHAT IS GOOD TASTE IN BUILDING DESIGN?

 

I think all of us who often complain about the mediocre new architecture we are getting in Fremantle should be delighted that the new DESIGN WA guidelines will apply from today on, but I am quite skeptical about the impact it will have, because good design is like good taste. It is very personal and hard to quantify.

Often when I have slammed the design of buildings others have commented they liked what I believed was atrocious architecture, so why would expert panels be any different in their different taste and preferences? Who dictates what good taste and good design is?

The new DESIGN WA guidelines are all about aesthetics and a review panel of 50 people will decide which planning proposal is in good taste and which one is not. The design review panel comprises of people from architecture, urban design, planning, and landscape architects plus more from heritage, public health, sustainability and engineering. It will be near impossible to reach consensus in such a big group I fear, so Chair Geoff Warn, who is the WA Government Architect, will have a big job ahead of him.

DESIGN WA has got rid of the controversial R-Code system applied up to now, so I wonder if Fremantle and other local councils will also do that. I’ll ask the Fremantle Planning Department if changes will be made in that regard.

I believe that our cities and communities deserve much better design than what we largely have been getting lately, especially for substantial apartment and office buildings. Retaining the tree canopy or providing significant numbers of trees and plants and creating much better streetscapes and public realm will be a very positive step forward. Let’s hope it can all be realised.

Roel Loopers

BETTER URBAN INFILL VERY IMPORTANT

 

WA Planning Minister Rita Saffioti has released stage one of DESIGN WA, the guidelines to improve the quality of urban infill.

One of the most heard complaints in Fremantle and all over the suburbs is the mediocre design of most of the new residential apartment and other buildings in our character cities, but planning rules and even design advisory panels have had little impact on improving the architecture and streetscapes, this will hopefully now improve, depending on how strict and strong the new policy can be enforced by local councils, JDAP, SAT and the WAPC.

Rita Saffioti’s statements says:

Design WA includes clearly defined objectives about what future developments should consider, and includes it in the revised Residential Design Codes. Objectives include:

  • Appropriate scale to respect the local character and context;
  • Minimum apartment sizes based on floor space and number of rooms;
  • Safe, healthy environments with good natural light and ventilation;
  • Development that creates walkable neighbourhoods with high amenity;
  • Green space such as shady trees for outdoor spaces and mature tree retention; and
  • Development that enhances local neighbourhoods. 

The policy will come into affect soon, on May 24, 2019, so that is a good thing.

One thing I have been wondering about is why urban infill and medium/high density buildings are demanded in older suburbs by the State Government but not in brand-new suburbs which are developed near public transport corridors. That makes no sense to me.

Roel Loopers

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