Freo's View



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The Fremantle Spare Parts Puppet Theatre building is getting a modern facelift in form of a so-called exo-skeleton. It’s a kind of Zimmer frame for buildings, as the images above show.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries commissioned North Fremantle Slavin Architects to help solve a problem identified with the Spare Parts building at Pioneer Park.

Slavin Architects were engaged by the Department to assess the external walls which were showing signs of potential structural instability.

Instead of demolishing and rebuilding the walls, which would have had a dramatic impact on Spare Parts future programs, Slavin Architects took a more lateral approach which was to brace the outside of the building with an ‘exo-skeleton’ or space-frame. Not only was the cost substantially lower than rebuilding the walls, but the time lost was minimal.

“The minimalist works provide an elegant and sculptural solution to a building of cultural and social significance to the City and the State.


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on February 24, 2018


The Fremantle Herald this week is full with opinions about how to protect Freo’s unique character when it comes to approving new development.

My old North Fremantle mate and former chair of the City’s planning committee Gerry MacGill says that Fremantle’s Councillors are struggling with the concept of exceptional architecture that grants developers discretionary additional height.

MacGill believes Council should not just rely on the opinion of the Design Advisory Panel but that the elected members are eminently qualified to make judgements on how the Woolstores development integrates with the surrounding streetscape and nearby buildings in regard to scale, massing and height.

I too found that at the special planning meeting Councillors and the Chair of the DAP were more concerned about small picture things and semantics like adding more bricks, than about the big picture; if the proposed building actually fits in well with the unique Fremantle character.

Also in the Chook is an opinion piece by architect Carl Payne, who often comments on Freo’s View.

Payne writes that the Manning Building approval shows that we only pay lip-service to heritage and that heritage protection is often not imposed if it affects the building’s owner.

The architect writes that the actions of Fremantle Councillors are not consistent with the Burra Charter heritage ideals and that compromises are made too easily to appease developers.

I am aware that a team from North Fremantle Slavin Architects also had a meeting with Mayor Brad Pettitt talking about their concerns about the often inappropriate architecture Council is approving in the CBD.

But there is more in the Herald with a full page advertisement by the Fremantle Society, which shows photos of buildings they believe ‘work’ and building which do not work. It comes as no surprise that there is not a single high building FS likes.

There is no doubt in my mind that Fremantle Council is bending over backward to accommodate development in Fremantle, and while I absolutely support the rejuvenation of the ugly east CBD Council needs to do a lot more to protect our city’s beauty. The architecture of the planned Woolstores development is not anywhere near good enough to consider it to be of exceptional quality, because it insufficiently addresses and respects Fremantle’s unique character. It’s not the height that worries me most, but the aesthetic incompetence.

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on November 8, 2017





It is slow news day in Fremantle today, so not much to blog about unfortunately.

But walking through Cliff Street this morning I admired the innovative architecture of the Mediterranean Shipping Company new building and the respectful way the old building has been restored to its former glory.

It is fantastic to see that North Fremantle Slavin Architects were allowed to design such a creative heritage of the future building by their client MSC, and I wonder why one of our major developers Silverleaf constantly puts up mediocre development proposals, such as the Woolstores shopping centre and Manning building sites.

Do Silverleaf’s designers not understand the importance of heritage and streetscape, or can’t they be bothered being considered about the unique character of the historic Fremantle inner city?

It is important in this context to hear what professional architect Carl Payne commented about the Manning Building proposal:

In terms of the scale of Village-Fremantle, this is a massive re-defining of a hugely-important central “super-block”. We need to preserve the maximum original structures as is reasonably possible, both externally and internally.
The brewery-barn takes a lot of important old rear buildings – some of the early residential sections of the original street-front commercial, so that’s always a worry, because we lose historic context.
If Council played harder-ball, the design brief could respond by converting these into inter-related “snugs”; like the cosy-corners in European and British pubs. It just needs some strength and commitment from Council; and some imaginative responses from the building designers and their client.
I’m sick of lose/lose.
What about win/win. It’s possible if we try hard enough.
My other additional preliminary comment is that we now have a chance to fully restore/reconstruct all original street verandas, yet we are being offered a banal boxy awning. Not good enough you building designers!!!

I want Mayor Brad to come out strongly; and NOT say that we need to encourage investment and therefore we need to give a little. Getting a bit sick of that from Brad.
He needs to make a stand on what IS acceptable; and what ISN’T acceptable. We can now look back on the last few “development years”……..and measure what is good; and what is not so good.
It’s not development versus museum town any more. Those arguments were had in the seventies.
We need to be more mature than that now.
If the building owners/developers wanna make a buck – fair enough, but not at the expense of the town; not at the expense of the heritage; not at the expensive of missing the point of what Fremantle has to offer.

We just don’t really get it – yet. We go away and look at old towns overseas – rave on about character; and history; and all that. Then we are happy with stuff that chips away at the edges to the extent that all this chipping finally removes what we wanted to keep in the first place. Death by a thousand chips. Will you have fish with that?



Re my earlier reference to a banal boxy awning – I see the drawings actually show a detail, and that includes verandah posts and wall brackets, so there’s a nod to “original” detail, but is this just a generic reference? Or have they done their photo research etc?? Is this authenticity? Or just Disney?
And gee, the Paddy Troy Mall now ends in a basement carpark entry. The road to cars-ville. City of Fremantle, just drop the car-parking requirements please. OR, maybe this is just a client-driven detail, for business-owners parking?? Either way, it just reduces the internal courtyard to roads and car-park access. Do we really want to do this??


Roel Loopers


Posted in accidents, cars, city of fremantle, Uncategorized by freoview on June 8, 2017



A lot of people like the modern creative new Mediterranean Shipping Company building in Fremantle’s Cliff Street, but this motorist clearly went for a too close-up look of the Slavin Architects designed building this Thursday morning.

St John’s ambulance and the fire brigade attended the scene.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, notre dame university by freoview on March 3, 2017



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.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, development, fremantle, heritage, western australia by freoview on September 15, 2016



The MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) building in Cliff Street has been handed over by the builders and architects to the owners and 160 staff will occupy the new modern building and the refurbished heritage former Elders building in Fremantle’s West End.

I think the buildings look great and the new one designed by North Fremantle Slavin Architects makes a modern attractive statement in the historic part of the city.

Also opening soon is the Atwell Arcade where some new retailers have already moved in plus 300 office staff upstairs, so that is a significant number of new workers (and shoppers, coffee drinkers, lunch eaters) in the CBD.

Now hoping the State Government will sign a lease for office space with Sirona Capital and the Kings Square development will also start soon as that would bring another 1,500 office workers to Fremantle.

Roel Loopers

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