Architect Carl Payne sent a comment to this blog about the article in the Fremantle Herald about yet another terrible development proposal for Fremantle’s West End. See the post below this one for it!
I believe Carls thoughts are very important so I am posting them here as well for those people who do not read the comments:
We really need to start thinking about what the West End of Fremantle is, in an Australian context.
It is a remarkably complete 19th Century urbanscape, which retains the essence of what this means. It’s a living museum; and this is important, because it is a functioning and workable collection of buildings that is rare in 21st century Australia.
Many overseas towns and cities can boast similar precincts; but few in Australia can. This is the first important point.
The second thing is that this is crucial because it has both economic and cultural advantages. The economic growth that Perth saw in the 60s; 70s; and 80s would have destroyed Fremantle’s West End if it had occurred here as it did in the State’s capital. We now have a chance to positively build on the magnificent streetscape we have inherited and – mostly – conserved. This can create significant economic advantages, because there is no doubt that Fremantle is now poised to grow its already significant Tourism marketplace.
But this is only part of the importance of the West End. It is also a cultural reminder for all of us who live here. It is a symbol of our past achievements. Cultures that demolish their past, weaken their future; they lose contact with their heritage, in both a physical and an emotional way. And adding a couple of floors to an old West End building destroys its integrity; it alters the streetscape; and it alters the skyline.
Look over Fremantle from the monument; or from the Town Hall; or from the Roundhouse. The roof-tops; and the old wall-parapet tops, are part of the heritage streetscape. They are what conservation is all about. We are talking about very fragile things here; connections; relationships; urban-scapes that are very easily lost.
I don’t often agree nowadays with Fremantle Society President John Dowson but his comment in the Fremantle Herald today that the proposed five-storey development for Pakenham and Henry streets is ‘Insanity’ is spot on!
It would be absolute madness to approve these buildings which would irreversibly destroy the West End.
The proposed building on the Centrelink site is evil in it’s absolute ugliness, and the beautiful facade of the Customs building on the corner of Henry and Phillimore streets would be destroyed if two storeys stuck out above it.
The problem will be that even if Fremantle Council rejects these inappropriate buildings we will be dependent on the whim of the pro-developers state agencies DAP and SAT and the new State Government need to do something about that very urgently.
The Fremantle community will not allow the destruction of our beautiful heritage West End that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to WA every year!
Here another photo taken from the top of the Fremantle Townhall from the National Hotel to the Maritime Museum and Indian Ocean.
We live in a very beautiful and unique historic city and we need to protect the character of the West End at all cost while supporting and encouraging excellent development in the East of the CBD.
Scaffolding will gradually come down from next week on the Fremantle Townhall.
I was given an exterior tour of the conservation works on Friday by City of Fremantle heritage coordinator architect Alan Kelsall and heritage project officer Gena Binet and Zac of the building contractors and was very impressed with the very detailed and substantial work involved in the $ 3.1 million project.
The Townhall project is the largest conservation work the city has ever undertaken and was necessary because of the deterioration of the building due to paint that did not allow the building to breath and suffocated the building, hence salt and moisture had badly damaged large areas.
Don’t expect a brightly-painted building as it has been brought back to its original stucco look of 1887.
About the town hall restoration
Before current restorative works were undertaken it had been almost thirty years since the last major capital expenditure on the Fremantle Town Hall.
Since mid-2016 a large team of skilled stonemasons, plasterers, lead workers and slate roofers with specialist traditional skills have transformed the exterior of the town hall building using traditional building methods.
Key elements such as the roof cladding and drainage systems needed to be replaced urgently to protect the building from ongoing deterioration prevent the loss of culturally significant features and address concerns about public safety.
Gutters and downpipes were too small to cope with current extreme weather events and have led to ongoing damage to the interior of the building. These elements have all been enlarged.
There were also ongoing issues caused by inappropriate surface treatments and repairs to masonry elements carried out in the1950s–60s. At this time there was little understanding of best practice conservation which had unfortunately led to the ongoing deterioration of masonry, embedded steel and timbers and decorative stucco work in the town hall.
During the works, it was discovered some inaccessible parts of the building were in worse condition than expected and extra works were required. To prevent further deterioration of the building and to make use of scaffolding already in place for the current restoration works, it was more efficient and cost effective to complete these additional works now.
P.S. Stunning views from the top of the Townhall so I will post some scenic photos of Fremantle next week and have requested a rooftop bar and a granny flat for me to be included in the renovations.
Check out the new on-line FREMANTLE SHIPPING NEWS magazine: http://fremantleshippingnews.com.au. I think it is very good and a great addition to local Freo media.
It’s not just about the port and maritime issues but about Fremantle lifestyle, food, heritage, architecture, art, etc.
FSN aims to be an online magazine about today’s Fremantle, with content and imagery provided, as much as possible, by interested locals.
The idea for the magazine was born out of daily drives past Fremantle Port and admiring and wondering about the activity of the coming and going ships.
The magazine is run by Fremantle local Michael Barker with assistance from local designers Superminimal, a number of Freo volunteer writers and photographers.
They welcome contact from anyone who would like to contribute to the magazine.
They have a subscribe button at the bottom of the webpage. Subscibers will receive an email notifying them of new articles.
FSH also have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/fremantleshippingnews/ which will promote new content and an instagram page https://www.instagram.com/fremantleshippingnews/ which will feature shipping and ‘Seen in Freo’ images.
Two big new developments in the Fremantle CBD are not far from reality. My ears are always on the ground and my eyes on the ball to pick up interesting news on the Freo grapevine and this news is huge!
It hear the derelict woolstores building opposite Clancy’s could be developed in the not too far distance. My informants tell me that Sirona Capital has shown interest in developing the heritage-listed building opposite Princess May Park that is owned by Marilyn New, the former owner of the Esplanade Hotel.
This eyesore has been an embarrassment for decades for Fremantle residents and businesses and a very ugly welcome sign for cruise ship passengers, so it would be great to see it developed and the building occupied again.
There will be a meeting about the plans at Hotel Australia next week, but I doubt it will be a public meeting.
In other news I hear that Freo developers Silverleaf have submitted their proposal to the City of Fremantle for a mixed development on the Woolstores shopping centre site at Cantonment Street.
The initial plans were not very good I have been told and the developers got frustrated having to change them several times while working with CoF planning officers and the Design Advisory Committee, but one elected member told me that the submitted plans “look surprisingly good.”
Planning Scheme Amendment 49 for that specific location allows for up to 11 storeys, if my memory is correct, so expect the proposal to be for a very large and high development.
My understanding is that the development will happen in two stages and that it involves a hotel, commercial and residential floor space and ground-level retail, so stay tuned.
The development of these two major sites in the East CBD is huge, especially in context of the planned and approved Hilton Doubletree, Spotlight and former Energy Museum sites developments.
The modernisation of that part of the inner city that is known as ‘Little Beirut’ will greatly enhance Fremantle’s tourism and retail potential and is another significant step forward to a prosperous future for our city.
In a rather petulant Thinking Allowed in the Fremantle Herald today Dean Fehlberg, a partner at MCDF Architects, who designed the mediocre proposal for the new Notre Dame University School of Nursing at 3 High Street claims Fremantle Council rejected the development because it was influenced by emotion and agitation.
Does Fehlberg mean with agitation the genuine concerns raised by Fremantle residents and the Fremantle Society in submissions to Council, and does he mean with emotion that we are very passionate about heritage protection in Fremantle?
Fehlberg shows a hint of arrogance and severe lack of self-criticism when he compares the height of the proposed UNDA building with the gorgeous National Hotel, Pearse Building, Orient Hotel and Fremantle Hotel. These are all buildings of outstanding Goldrush period architecture and can in no way be compared to the unimaginative, boring and mediocre design proposal for the historic West End of Fremantle by the MCDF Architects.
The architects are no doubts also aware that the criticism about the height of the proposed building is because the planning rules for the West End Conservation Area only allow for three-storey buildings with an option of a fourth storey if the architecture is outstanding, which it isn’t!
Architect Fehlberg also criticises the Slavin Architects designed MSC building in Cliff Street because “it is all glass and flowing curved lines of steel with no masonry at all and without any precedence in the West End.”
Indeed Mr Fehlberg, and that makes the MSC building so delightfully unique, inspiring, creative and heritage of the future architecture, while your team ignores the heritage significance and beauty of the West End by proposing a very bland design. It does not add to the architectural greatness of the West End, but the MSC building does.
Dean Fehlberg writes in the Herald that he was very disappointed with the Fremantle Council level of debate….and disrespect shown for the opinion of the State Heritage Office and City’s Design Advisory Committee.
What concerns the community and Fremantle Councillors more is the disrespect shown by MCDF Architects for the unique beauty and historic significance of the West End and that the architects believe their non-creative boredom is appropriate next to the stunning Lionel Samson building and opposite the beautiful Fremantle Hotel building and in Western Australia’s most beautiful street.
Harsh self-criticism is a great way forward to becoming excellent at what one does, not acknowledging one’s own limitations means accepting mediocrity.
Fremantle Notre Dame University Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond has advised city residents that the university has asked the state’s Joint Development Assessment Panel-JDAP to adjourn the application for a five-storey development at 3 High street by four weeks so that the university can further explore the details.
The application was scheduled to be considered by JDAP next Thursday on March 9.
UNDA are engaging an independent heritage specialist to assist them in addressing the heritage matters which have been raised. They will also be seeking the input and comments of the City Officers and Councillors throughout this time, the Vice Chancellor said.
This is a very professional and mature approach by Notre Dame University and shows real consideration and respect for the feedback they received from Fremantle Council and residents.
If as I expect the WA Joint Development Assessment Panel next Thursday rejects the application by Notre Dame University for a five-storey development at 3 High Street, the university will have to look at alternative solutions.
The School of Nursing requires a lot of floor space, so a lower three-storey building in the West End won’t be big enough for UNDA I presume.
I found the perfect location for the new Notre Dame building on the corner of Suffolk Street and South Terrace, opposite Fremantle Hospital.
It is a leisurely ten-minute walk from the rest of the UNDA campus, close to public transport and parking and just a ten-minute walk to the railway station.
The vacant site is outside the West End conservation area, so height won’t be an issue and neither would be street level activation.
The City of Fremantle is planning a new carpark at the Stan Reilley site, so no worries about parking either, and Queensgate and Collie Street parking is nearby as well.