Back to square

• Locals didn’t warm to Cox Architects’ design ideas for the Kings Square civic buildings.

• Locals didn’t warm to Cox Architects’ design ideas for the Kings Square civic buildings.

DEVELOPER Sirona isn’t concerned Fremantle council has ditched its architect’s design for the civic buildings in the $220 million Kings Square revamp, saying they were merely rough ideas.

Following what a council staffer’s report says were “many concerns about the architecture” the design has been thrown open for a global architectural competition.

Sirona boss Matthew McNeilly told the Herald he wasn’t fazed that the public hadn’t warmed to the images, saying it was early days and he was happy with what the architects had provided.

At a special meeting Monday the council formally adopted the business plan that will see it and Sirona jointly redevelop Kings Square.

Mayor Brad Pettitt described the Cox Architecture drawings as “illustrative blobs” and says the council always intended throwing the “civic triangle” design open.

“It was clear from the feedback that the community wants the design of Fremantle’s new civic heart to be of the highest quality,” he told the Herald.

”That is why we have gone for an international design competition so we can have the world’s best architects competing to design and build the new Fremantle library and civic buildings. Cox’s designs were good and they may also enter the competition if they wish.”

Cox director Fred Chaney told the Herald the images they provided were for the master plan and not very detailed, with the only work at a “high conceptual level” so far being for Sirona on the Myer building.

Mr Chaney says the company would consider putting an entry in for the competition and praised the council’s consultation and approach to the plan.

Hilton ward councillor  Sam Wainwright— a socialist state election candidate for Willagee—was “disappointed” his colleagues voted down plans to remove a hotel and insert affordable housing into the precinct: “My fellow councillors claim that a hotel would be a better use of the site,” he says. “But better for whom? Surely the need for more affordable housing trumps a hotel?”

Dr Pettitt says adopting the business plan is a “major turning point for the viability and vibrancy of the Fremantle CBD”.

The project will be a, “catalyst for the future redevelopment of other non-heritage parts of Fremantle. It’s important to reflect back on the reasons this project was considered in the first place, which was to attract more people to live, work, and shop in the heart of our city, as well as kick-starting the broader revitalisation of Fremantle’s city centre.”

by BRENDAN FOSTER

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