WA Today published this story following an event in Freo on the weekend to launch Spacemarket’s new iphone app called Why So Empty? which enable the the user to indetify empty spaces that could be used for creative activities.

So download it and lets get Freo’s empty spaces buzzing.

Bringing Perth to life – through unused space

April 15, 2013 – 9:40AM

Robyn Preston

WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, Spacemarket founders Nic Brundson and Beth George and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, Spacemarket founders Nic Brundson and Beth George and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

You may have noticed Perth has got a whole lot more interesting lately.

Pop-up stores, shared cafe and creative working spaces, even silent discos – these quirky additions have sprung from a “space sharing” initiative that brings together disused urban areas and creative tenants.

Although some people may still be quick to hand out the “dull” or “boring” label to Perth, everyone has the opportunity to make it more interesting, Nic Brunsdon, director and co-founder of the organisation Spacemarket, says.

A 'silent disco' in Northbridge.A ‘silent disco’ in Northbridge.

With the launch of a new smartphone app – developed jointly by Spacemarket and Greens Senator Senator Scott Ludlam, both discovering and renting spaces, is just a click away.


“You’ve got to create the city you want,” Mr Brunsdon said.

“Cities are made through fine grain enterprises – because that’s the stuff that gives street level vibrancy and makes the city alive and a fun place to be.

“We love big infrastructure projects such as Victoria Quay and the Perth Arena – but filling the gaps around it helps to create vibrancy at street level in a sustainable way.”

Mr Brunsdon said the not-for-profit was launched from an idea, after he returned from a stint in Melbourne and found it difficult to find a small creative space to rent.

He had been working as an architect in an old storeroom off the back of a pub in Melbourne for $50 a week and came to Perth looking for something similar.

“I spent about two months looking at commercial real estate sites and couldn’t find anything

“Eventually, after walking around the city and looking up and around – seeing all this unused space, I came across an office on Kings Street just by wondering past.

“I put in a lease proposal and eventually secured it.”

He said Spacemarket was different from a real estate agency or website because its main focus was not to make money – it  was to support and advocate for sustainable tenancies.

The business finds places that may have been identified by the owner as difficult to rent and navigates through legislation to utilise and reoccupy them.

“We pair disused places with interesting people through facilitating discussions and fostering relationships between property owners and potential tenants – there is no common type of arrangement,” Mr Brunsdon said.

“It makes wins for everyone involved – property owners make money by leasing spaces, tenants find creative places to lease and local governments get more people to use empty spaces.”

A supporter of using empty space to the advantage of local business is Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettit.

Mr Pettit believes retail in particular is “undergoing a major shift” and said the app initiative would benefit local councils.

“It’s a real simple way of rejuvenating our town centres,” Mr Pettit said.

“There is a problem where we have too many empty spaces which undermines the vibrancy.

“I get two things very commonly – ‘can you do something about all the empty businesses’ and ‘I need a space where I can start up my business’.”

He said it “makes sense” to combine empty places with an app that will enable people who are after seeking space to start up a business

“Retail is undergoing a major shift everywhere and you can see that in Fremantle. The app is a way of dealing with the lack of retail diversity,” he said.

One happy renter, director of AudioVault Events James Stewart, said the concept had literally opened doors to places around Perth that he didn’t know existed.

“It has allowed us to start up our business. We now rent two offices and other temporary locations around Perth,” he said.

“Anything that is available in the city via a commercial lease always gets picked-up so quickly. That is why this initiative is so good – because it connects people with empty spaces such as rooftops, spare rooms and basements for temporary or long-term rentals.”

He said the idea worked well, especially in his line of work which includes “pop-up” silent disco events.

“We love Perth and we love seeing it’s unused, underused or forgotten empty spaces turned into something amazing and useful,” he said.

“Perth is full of hidden gems, and instead of seeing these venues deteriorate beyond usability we love to see them being used. This movement has provided us with venues to hold events that we’d never have had the opportunity to do so.”

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor


  1. Rhiannon Bristow-Stagg says:

    This is funny, last night I was just reading about all of the “pop up stores” in the UK. With regards to these, it’s a great concept for female entrepreneurs who often need to work their business around family. Plus, perhaps the change, immediacy and non-permanency aspects better capture the interest of the current young generation? Sounds great.

  2. Robert Fittock says:

    these young spacemarket folks have done some great work in PerthCity one of which I visit daily for a coffee in the hay street mall

    i was pleased to introduce them to the westgate mall some 12 odd months ago and it’s great to see Scott, Brad, Nik and Beth promoting Freo and taking up the challenge….nice photo of Nik and Beth

    one would get the impression that this is a greenies thing but i am still pleased that they took up the cause for Freo albeit initiated by a Lib 🙂

  3. Robert Bodkin says:

    I hope this will allow us to start making shoes in the back of our shop.
    The initial inquiry has put up road blocks, such as, if machinery is used then there needs to be a sprinkler system, it doesnt conform to the building usage, No noise to penetrate to adjoining premises etc.
    This is for a traditional Hand made process and is not much different to a Cobblers shop ,of which there are many in Fremantle. The Fire Dept say strict rules since the burning of the National.
    So please advise how we should get this essential initiative to our survival up and running please.

  4. Kate Gordon says:

    Hi. My daughter is looking for a wedding venue for October. Ideally she would like an empty warehouse with raw brick walls, wooden floor and exposed beams on the ceiling so she can have her own lighting and decorations. She is an artist and pretty much wants a rustic blank canvas to work with. Are you able to help ?? Kate Gordon

  5. Jane says:

    Hi Brad, We are a small creative design business, run by two mum’s, looking for just this… We had a great temporary office/studio/store in East Freo, a council building, but we have had to move out. After scouring the commercial real estate pages for Fremantle, I then found this article. It would be great if something like what spacemarket have done in Perth existed in Fremantle. We know a lot of similar businesses in the area who would also be interested. We are too small to lease a property on our own, we don’t come under traditional artists – eg. painter’s etc. So need shared office space that is safe, secure, and has parking. Love to hear if you came up with some suitable spaces with Space Market.

  6. Hello there Brad – i too am in a similar situation to the ladies above. Having been forced to relocate due to the Richmond Quarter development in east freo, my training and rehabilitation business is suffering due to the lack of action on empty spaces that i have applied for in the greater fremantle area by commercial agents, space that is ridiculously expensive, space that has only paid parking available, and on my regular drive/walk arounds seeing empty space just sitting there for weeks and weeks now. i’d love to work with the city on keeping my business in the area, and dont need shopfronts or mallspace – i’d be happy with a classic freo warehouse!
    If Space Market or Fremantle could assist me in any way, that would make myself and the clients/patients i look after a lot less stressed indeed.

  7. Dee says:

    Hey there!

    Firstly, I would live to congratulate you on such a fabulous idea!! I am an art therapist and sound therapy practitioner. I am trying to find a space I can rent, but it is proving hard as I don’t fit into the typical therapist and a consulting room so to speak will just not suit me.

    All i need is an empty room, with a sink and toilet access. And also the abilty to make a little noise (sometimes) which would include gongs. Can you help??

    Warm regards

  8. Hi Brad . I’d Just like to say that it’s fantastic what you guys are doing. I’m an up and coming designer looking for a space to build a workshop for fashion artists. I believe there are a lot amazing young talented graduates from fashion school with little employment options or spaces to continue their creativity. The idea I have is to create a space for collaboration in respect of design and production to sell to the public and build awareness of small scale fashion business. Perth as a city has the talent and demand for beautiful clothing. I’m looking ideally for a disused warehouse or large room or retail unit on a short term lease for a fashion market and design space.
    Kind regards
    Mauricio Alpizar

  9. Pingback: Going more in Depth.. | tiannafung

  10. Sherrie Wilson says:

    Hi Brad,

    I am trying to find this app, but it doesn’t seem to be available anymore… Do you know what has happened?



  11. Nermin Salih says:

    Hi, could you please prove the link to the app mentioned in this article, it isn’t working at the moment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: