A Fresh Approach to Freo’s Heritage: In The West Today.

This excellent article by Philip Griffiths was in the West’s property section today:


The City of Fremantle led the way in identifying and protecting heritage sites in WA but, for a time, this made development difficult.

Rightly or wrongly, there was a view in the development world that Fremantle was a difficult place for projects. This story charts a different experience and reflects a new and positive heritage development environment in the port city.

The Defence Housing Australia Gunners’ Cottages development in Queen Victoria Street is a good example of the City’s evolving approach to heritage.

Fremantle is aware of the need to encourage development to sustain and revitalise itself, while at the same time protecting the things that are valued by the local and State community.

The Gunners’ Cottages project is important as an example of heritage as an opportunity, rather than an impediment, and of the City’s refreshed attitude to heritage and compatible development.

Managing the impact of development on heritage is key in Fremantle and design compatibility is part of the equation for achieving good commercial and acceptable developments.

After a long period of community consultation about the future of the site, a subdivision of the Artillery Barracks land was achieved. End use for the cottages remained uncertain, with a number of agencies unable to recognise the opportunity prior to DHA’s engagement.

When Griffiths Architects completed preliminary assessment on options compatible with heritage values, DHA bought the site and developed a brief for the adaptation of 10 historic cottages, designed to meet contemporary standards for service personnel, and six new houses.

The challenge was to realise the opportunity, the density coding and a difficult site. Additional dwellings required the exercise of discretion under the City Planning Scheme on the basis of a heritage benefit for a place of recognised heritage value.

The Gunners’ Cottages are part of what was the Artillery Barracks. They were built during the second stage of construction and completed in 1913.

Among the achievements of the project are 10 conserved brick and stone cottages in a sympathetic setting that are now as visually prominent as they were. The most important elements of the houses have been conserved. At the rear, the site was cleared and six simply designed contemporary houses built.

Each property has a small rear yard with a communal space for play and casual socialising.

The outcome responds to heritage values and achieves a fitting amount of new development that is inconspicuous and allows the cottages to remain the most prominent part of the development.

Gunner’s Cottages are a good demonstration of a refreshing new approach to heritage, the importance of having a committed owner and of all parties wanting to produce something that meets specific needs while respecting community values.


Philip Griffiths is director of Griffiths Architects, 17 Aug 2016, West Australian, Perth


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

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