Brutally beautiful

The old post office in its brutal prime.

THE former Hamilton Hill Post Office on Dodd Street is to be heritage listed by Cockburn council. 

A rare surviving example of late 20th century brutalist architecture in the ‘burbs, the discoloured concrete 1969 post office was nominated by an anonymous local who sees 

“aesthetic value” in its blocky concrete design. 

Despite sitting vacant for years, heritage consultants Element said the building held aesthetic and historic value, for being part “of an extensive WA Post Office telecommunications expansion” during the 1960s. 

The concrete-heavy, minimalist style was first used in 1949 by Swedish architect Hans Asplund, to describe a square, brick house. 

Despite not having the friendliest of names, brutalism forms the outer shell of famous art museums such as the Tate Modern and Victoria and Albert Museums in London. 

The trend found its way to Perth in the mid-1960s, when the city’s population was barely half a million. The most prominent survivor is the WA Art Gallery. 

Beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, or “a question of taste” when it comes to brutalist architecture, according to Swinburne University associate professor of architecture and design, DJ Huppatz.

With that in mind, some Hami Hill residents would rather see the post office bowled over.

Immediate neighbour Bill says the building “looks disgusting” and he was angry it had become “rat-infested” and attracted squatters. “I have personally had [a] dirty syringe stab me whist I was cleaning out the back drive,” he said.

Another Dodd Street local, Georgia, says the charming building just doesn’t belong there anymore: “[It’s] at odds with the residential setting of the rest of the properties on the street.”

While neighbour Jane agrees it is “an eyesore,” she can imagine the white-washed walls housing a hipster hub of arts or yoga studios, start-ups and a trendy bar or cafe. 

“Hamilton Hill attracts a younger demographic who can not afford to live in Fremantle but enjoy the same lifestyle; i.e. quality bars, cafes and health food shops,” she said. 

“I would like to see it developed into a bar or cafe complex similar to the Old Synagogue in Fremantle, or the Arts Centre. 

by KELLY WARDEN

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