Engagement with the democratic process is at the heart of the Kings Square Redevelopment in Fremantle. Council offices, the Fremantle council library & civic chamber rooms centre around a covered plaza – the ‘Urban Room’, maintaining a direct interface with the public realm. The visibility and accessibility of the council chamber render its activity – representative local government – tangible and encourages participation in the democratic process. The primacy of the chamber’s location with the public realm emphasises the accessibility of democracy in this municipality, balancing a healthy respect for the authority of this institution with an openness and informality: a truly social space.
Balancing the parochial with the possible, the Kings Square Redevelopment exists within the established character of Fremantle’s streets and squares while providing a new type of space. The sun-bleached, solid outer surfaces of the triangle site frame this new urban space –the Urban Room – a colourful, tactile urban landscape not currently evident in Fremantle.
The heritage architecture of the adjacent Town Hall is both eclectic and playful in its classicism, reflecting the boom-style, Victorian-era optimism of another age when Fremantle was an emerging settlement. The Kings Square Redevelopment establishes a new architectural geometry informed by the specificity of its triangular site. Two grids – triangular and dodecahedral – echo Fremantle’s Roundhouse and the site itself, and overlap to provide an overall ordering strategy. Applied in plan and elevation, the resulting grid is carefully manipulated to provide a huge variety of architectural possibility. Just like the Town Hall, this new geometry is eclectic and playful and taps into Fremantle’s sense of optimism in the twenty-first century.