High degree of excellence

06. 28NEWS

FREMANTLE architecture’s time has arrived, says the head of a firm which last weekend picked up a major state award.

Ben Braham says the port city’s close-knit architectural community has been quietly beavering away for years, but has been punching above its weight recently—as evidenced by a strong showing in the Australian Institute of Architects’ local awards last Friday.

There were six awards or commendations for local architects.

Braham Architects picked up top commercial building for the Sanwell offices in Welshpool, which also scored runner-up for the sustainability award.

Bernard Seeber Architects scored top heritage award for the Cancer Wellness Centre in Cottesloe and best small project for the Dharmapala Buddhist centre in East Freo, while Officer Woods Architects had best additions for a home in Como.

A number of factors contributed to Fremantle’s growing architectural reputation, but Mr Braham says the city’s sense of community and sensitivity needed around its heritage buildings probably played a part.

He says local draftees have always had a close relationship, which has given up-and-comers like him access to established architects others from Perth’s CBD mightn’t get.

“Just thinking allowed, you’ve got people like Michael Patroni (Spaceagency) and Bernard Seeber—they both picked up awards on the weekend—they just go about quietly doing their thing, they’re not showboaters, and they are an inspiration to us.

“It’s like the Fremantle architects’ Christmas—because a lot of us are smaller businesses with two or three people, rather than doing a big office party like the big firms in the CBD, everyone decided just to do a joint party, and that’s been going on for years.”

It helped Mr Braham gather the confidence to take on the big firms that usually score commercial contracts.

He says Sanwell was his first project in that area, and he and the client learned a lot along the way; in fact, the finished offices weren’t what the company had initially wanted at all.
Mr Braham says as he explored Sanwell’s needs, he was able to show it he could design a building that would give it flexibility to adapt into the future, as well as making working life more enjoyable for employees. Apparently the firm was hooked.

Other local winners include CODA, which shared an award for educational architecture with Broderick Architects for Bunbury Catholic College, and Yun Nie Chong and Patrick Kosky for their private home in Price Street, Fremantle.

A number of local buildings also earned their architects awards, including Fiona Stanley Hospital, Notre Dame Uni’s Bateman Courtyard, the Helm apartments in Port Coogee, the Lovestory shop in George Street, East Fremantle, and private residences on Blackwall Reach and Solomon Street.


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