“When I was a child new to Perth, everyone I knew lived in the dunes. Some people lived in the loose white limestone sand near the ocean. I thought of them as the Sand People. Every afternoon the fierce sea wind, which they dismissed as The Breeze, blew their sand into the air and scalloped and corrugated their properties.
Sun and wind had rearranged the appearance of the Sand People as well–tanned, freckled, scabbed and bleached them. With their darker skins, red eyes, raw noses and permanent deep cracks in their bottom lips, they looked nothing like Melbourne people.”
The Sand People, Robert Drewe 2010
Fremantle, port city, the beachhead of the Swan River colony, the mouth of the Swan River, an industrial working class town, ancient meeting of trade routes and place of the first friction between Indigenous and Europeans in WA.
The Derbal Yaragan or Swan River, fed from the granite and lateritic hills of the Darling Scarp, snakes across the sand plain and carves through the Tamala limestone headland at Manjaree or Arthur’s Head.
For the Noongah people this place was meeting and trading point- men and strong boys would swim the mouth, while the women and younger children would walk back to Herrison Island and cross close to what was to become Perth.
This history of cutting and shaping the limestone coast, and using this rock for buildings serves as an inspiration for the formal and material qualities of our proposal.
Our Civic Building appears to be a large limestone slab, floating over a timber and glass base, carved and shaped to form a new lively center to celebrate the culture of Fremantle and citizens from all walks of life.
Cultural and historic map:
Any building is a physical cast of the culture of a community at that point in time.
Historically, many civic buildings also make reference to the past, and future aspirations. For example many town halls have applied art that references historic events, and often civic buildings have aspirational qualities that speak of civility, democracy, and now sustainability.
Our proposal seeks to capture the history of Fremantle and reveal this to residents and visitors alike.
These qualities are explored through the following elements:
The whole surface of King’s Square is re-paved with Tamala limestone – both the softer, darker Moore River Limestone and denser Carabooda Limestone to create homogenous surface representing geology of the area.
The Stone Council
Seemingly carved from a great block of Tamala limestone, the new council and library floats one story over a glass prism to the east end of the site, and is anchored to the ground by the Stone Drum – the Urban Room.
The Stone Drum
An anchor to the site-; inspired by the historic forms of the Round House and the Globe Theater; functions as a foyer to the council, library and chambers (over), has 2 levels of balconies to create a possible performance space, links to the adjacent Town Hall, wood and glass internally.
The council chambers and an equal sized Corten-clad cylindrical roof deck for the citizens– linked and raised on the roof, provide views across the city to the harbor and the islands of Cockburn Sound, and from the citizens roof deck to the Square’s Cultural Map.
Red Light Craft Studios
The sea-tainer “pop-up-shops” along the Newman Lane- low rent short term tenancies for craftsperson/artist/- a Red Light District for pimping-pop-culture.
The Stone Drum provides both an open foyer space for the Library and Council, a new formal entry space to the Old Hall and a new performance space for the City. A new backstage for the old Town Hall jointly serves the Stone Drum.
Permeable lanes through the ground level link natural pedestrian flows to the Square- protection from the Fremantle Doctor is provided by a double height wind-screening gate.
BOLLES+WILSON and iredale pedersen hook architects