They call it O-Day at Notre Dame University in Fremantle, but today’s Orientation Day for new students was more of a WOW!!!! Day.
It was the biggest number of new students ever at O-Day at UNDA and more than 2,000 paraded through the inner city by the sounds of a drum band.
Live music, food vans and even a licensed bar for the 18+ students were in the historic West End, so no doubt it will have been a fun-filled day and rite of passage for many.
I love having Notre Dame in the West End. I love the energy of the young students and the activation they bring to the inner city. The uni is highly respected and students and staff love it and it is is pretty special that Fremantle can call itself a university city.
Mayor Brad Pettitt said in jest that one day the City will sort the parking issues, but why not start by giving incentives to those students who car pool, as most of them drive all alone into Freo, hence the search for parking near the uni is annoying. Four students in one car instead of just the driver would take some 75% of student cars out of the West End.
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:
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.
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!
It was interesting to hear at the Roundhouse today that there are still many people in Fremantle, and some in the tourism industry, who don’t know that the volunteer guides fire the cannon every day at 1 pm.
Cannon firing can be booked as a surprise birthday gift and for anyone. Today a school student from Geraldton fired it in front of her 30 classmates, teachers and another 50 people, as the photo I took shows.
Everyone who fires the cannon receives a certificate. You can book it on the Roundhouse website, where the guides also take bookings for school visits, weddings on the lawn next to the Roundhouse, functions, etc.
The Roundhouse is open every day of the year but for Good Friday and Christmas Day from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm.
I am a big fan of Fremantle’s Notre Dame University but believe the significance of the university to the Fremantle economy has almost slipped unnoticed under the radar of many in our community with some complaining the uni, like every other educational institution in Australia, does not pay council rates.
What UNDA has done is building a very strong brand with high academic acclaim and student satisfaction in the historic West End of Fremantle that attracts more than 6,000 students a year to the campus who are being looked after by around 1,700 staff and lecturers. That is over 7,700 people buying coffee and meals in Freo! It is estimated that the students alone contribute $ 1 million a year to the cafe industry.
When we talk about economic revitalisation we mention a possible 1,200 Housing Department staff relocating to Kings Square, 160 staff the Mediterranean Shipping Company in Cliff Street has brought in and some 200 people now working at the new Atwell Arcade building. That is all great but it also shows how important Notre Dame is for Freo’s hospitality and retail as it alone brings five times more people into Fremantle than those three examples combined.
Most cafes in Fremantle’s West End would not survive without the university, as they and tourism create the numbers that make these small businesses viable. Together with the weekend attraction of Fremantle to suburban visitors this helps make cafes successful all week.
So when you think that Notre Dame does not contribute enough to Fremantle, think about all the people who have jobs in cafes mainly because they get supported by students and staff of the uni, and also have a look at how well they look after the beautiful heritage buildings they occupy.
The one major disappointment for me is the lack of student accommodation in Fremantle and the exodus of students late afternoons. I hope the City of Fremantle and Notre Dame University will collaborate on improving that. What about COF offering UNDA a block of land at the Knutsford Street workshops site for a 49-year peppercorn rent or so, where UNDA can build a student apartment block close to public transport and only a ten-minute bike ride to uni?
Notre Dame does tours of the campus where one can see the stunning adaptive re-use of the heritage buildings, and while there keep an eye out for some outstanding Aboriginal art work on the walls. The free tours are being held every Friday morning. Contact UNDA for information.
I have thought long and hard for the last five days about the development proposal by Fremantle Notre Dame University for the vacant site on the corner of Cliff and High streets in the historic West End and have come to the conclusion that it is not acceptable.
Even with all my good will for Notre Dame and being a supporter of the uni I can’t approve of the bland building proposed that is unacceptably high in the West End Conservation Area, no matter how much I like the UNDA people.
WECA has a four storey limit and just because an incompetent council in the 80s approved the abomination and monstrosity at number 1 High Street-the former Tram building- does not mean we should now allow another five storey building next to it to cover up the ugliness.
If UNDA needs the extra height it needs to move to the east of the CBD, but what they propose can’t be tolerated in our beautiful West End. The design is unsympathetic to the streetscape and entire historic area and the five storey height would squeeze in the surrounding buildings and Roundhouse.
The sweet carrot dangled in front of the community by offering ground level activity with a theatre, function/exhibition space and a bar/cafe is not good enough to compromise and allow a fifth floor on this building, as that is well above the West End Conservation Area planning rules and should never be compromised, not even for my good friends at UNDA!
The only compromise I can see is for a redesigned facade with a set back fourth storey that is pulled back well from the corner of Cliff and High in a 45 degree angle to create a third level roof terrace. That would also create the opportunity of a vertical garden along the fourth floor and an outdoor function and recreation area on the third floor roof.
Notre Dame University have genuinely tried to be a good corporate citizen and be part of the Fremantle community, but they need and can do much better with this building. This is a fantastic opportunity to build a heritage of the future building in this prime location, and they should not let their architects get away with proposing something so average and boring. UNDA must insist on beauty and creativity.
It is a shame I can’t show you the artist drawing of the proposal but they are not yet available to the public.
An information session will be held on October 25 from 5.30-6pm at the City of Fremantle. Enter at the back up the stairs in front of Many 6100.
Notre Dame University today invited the community to have a look at the plans for the development of the vacant site on the corner of High and Cliff streets in the historic West End of Fremantle and unfortunately it looks as if it is going to be controversial.
Fremantle Society president John Dowson said it was outrageous to propose five storeys in the West End Conservation Area as it was not allowed under the City of Fremantle planning rules for the precinct, and I tend to agree with him, but with some reservations.
My biggest worry is setting precedents in the West End for higher buildings as other developers are waiting in the wings for more height in Henry Street and High streets, etc.
But I also acknowledge the reality of the very ugly five storey, plus huge towers at No 1 High Street and the new UNDA building would cover up the back of this monstrosity.
UNDA also wants ground level activation by putting a 220 seat theatre in the building and a bar/cafe, function centre/exhibition space, which would help that end of town a lot as it is a ghost town at night and on weekends.
But should the community compromise on height in the historic old town to cover up another ugly building and to achieve activation? We have a choice to make here that is very important and it’s a difficult one!
The height of the old Tram Building facade is equivalent to four storeys of the ugly No 1 building, as my photo above shows.
I also question the sharp angle of the building as it would have been softer and give more reference to heritage buildings in the vicinity to make the corner of the building at Cliff and High streets round.
The new building would house the nursing school that is getting inundated with applications to the extend that UNDA had to reject some people.
Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond told us the university is doing a complete external audit of its buildings and uses to see if they can be better used and help activation in the West End.
Celia Hammond said the university now has 6,000 students and 1,700 staff and had 24,000 visitors for events. It is estimated that UNDA students spend $ 2.5 million a year on coffee, etc and no doubt the substantial university staff will also support the Fremantle economy.
As I said at the meeting I am getting annoyed with beautiful artist impressions that do not clearly show the reality and impact of planned new buildings and it is time the City of Fremantle insisted on 3D plans for these kind of significant building, so that the community can get a clear and factual impression of what is proposed.
The UNDA building will cost between $ 14-17 million, so it surely is not a big deal to spend a few thousand dollars on 3D imagery.
The present vacant block and the back of the awful No 1 High Street building are an eyesore, so a new building will help improve the area, and a theatre, bar, exhibition space will no doubt make a huge difference as well and connect with the J Shed art precinct, but all parties need to be willing to compromise a little and that is going to be a big ask I fear.
Fremantle Notre Dame University is holding an information session next Monday, October 10 for local residents and businesses about plans for a new building at 3-5 High Street on the corner of Cliff Street. It is at 3.30 pm at Fairweathers, the former Fremantle Hotel. RSVP essential: firstname.lastname@example.org
I wished everyone who wants to develop a substantial building in the inner city would make the effort of connecting with the local community at the early planning stage, as UNDA is doing. Last year they had the first info session telling locals they were planning the development and now they want to update us about where they are at. This enables everyone to work together to get the best possible outcome, instead of being presented with final plans where the community often becomes reactive and negative.
The vacant lot has been a bit of an eyesore for years and a new building there will also cover up the back of very ugly number one High Street, where they only left the beautiful former tram building facade.
It will be interesting to see the design of the building after the recent opening of the daring MSC building at Cliff Street by Murray Slavin Architects. The streetscape aspect is very important on that corner opposite the former Fremantle Hotel and in front of the ‘Wedding Wall’ which will be retained, I have been told.
The university is also keen to get street level activation and is considering a theatre and cafe at ground level of the building.
I really wanted the Abraham Day at Fremantle Notre Dame University to connect with me. I believed listening to a Rabbi, a Sheikh and an Archbishop would show me that the religious institutions have caught up with reality and the 21st century, but I walked out disappointed and feel that this was an opportunity lost.
UNDA Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond, who had the brilliant idea for Abraham Day, said that the day was to celebrate what we have in common, and all three speakers commented on that.
The Catholic Archbishop of Perth Timothy Costello said there needs to be a paradigm shift and religions not seeing each other as rivals and competitors, and that people from all religions are our brothers and sisters.
While the differences between the religions are real we all believe in the one God, not many Gods!
Rabbi Dovid Freilich said that the uniqueness of Abraham was to do justice and righteousness. We are not to sacrifice our sons and human beings, not even for God. We need to show love and respect for those with other beliefs.
I noted down for both speakers that there was too much preaching going on and disappointingly not much connection to the now.
Sheikh Muhammad Agherdien was the last speaker and while the two speakers prior to him had also spoken longer than the allocated 15 minutes, the Sheikh took it to a whole new level and kept preaching and quoting the Koran on and on, without making much of a connection with the present.
That disappointed me personally as I was hoping to hear something of substance from him, since I am keen to learn what Islam’s relevance in our modern society is. That also applies to Christianity and Judaism.
For the Sheikh to call for the return to ancient wisdom because that is where the answers unblemished by time are, is unrealistic and explains why religions have failed so miserably in the modern world.
Because of the long speeches there was not a lot of time for the Q&A, which was a shame as I wanted to ask all three leaders why most religions have failed to spread God’s message of love, compassion and tolerance.
The Rabbi said we needed to bring heaven down to earth, but instead religion has brought hell to earth with religious wars for 2000 years.
Maybe the failure of the religious institutions has partly to do with the fact that some religious leaders arrogantly behave like God instead of being God’s messenger. That does not include any of the speakers present at the UNDA Abraham Day event who were very human and likeable with a ready smile!
I very much liked the public speaker who pleaded for more humanitarianism and asked the three leaders if they would be willing to unrobe so their differences would not be so visible, as religion has made the world divisive.
I hope UNDA will continue with Abraham Day and other multi-faith days as universities should be leaders in this debate. It just needs a bit more structure and less preaching.
These are my very personal observations and impressions and I am sure that many who attended the event have totally different views, so let’s hear them because we need to debate these things in our community!
My friends at the Fremantle LANCE HOLT School are holding an OPEN DAY this Saturday September 17 from 10-12 am.
The independent community school offers an integrated program for children from 3-year-old Kindi to Year Six and is highly regarded by Freo parents who love the relaxed atmosphere at the school.
The school is at 10 Henry Street in the historic West End of town and was established in 1970 by Lance Holt.