The City of Fremantle has been undergoing somewhat of an architectural renaissance this year. First, there was the news that Fremantle’s West End was to gain the largest-ever heritage listing in the state of Western Australia. Then, there was the announcement of the largest development in Fremantle’s history, the $270-million Kings Square project, which included an overhaul of the area’s retail landscape.
But the nascent development hasn’t been confined to the guts of the seaside city. There has also been a significant influx of housing and infrastructure around Leighton Beach, where the public beach facilities were, until recently, struggling to keep pace.
In the wake of the area’s redevelopment, the City of Fremantle commissioned local architecture practice Bernard Seeber to catch the facilities up. The main touchpoints for the Leighton Beach Facilities redevelopment were access, landscaping, a new kiosk and improved changeroom facilities.
These last two – the kiosk and changerooms – were already present at the site, but had been neglected over the years. As the result of increased traffic from the newer developments, it was determined by council that the existing facilities were no longer adequate.
Not only was access re-established between the facilities and its surrounding landscape, but universal access was designed into the site – particularly important considering the Leighton Beach’s frequent use by the Disabled Surfers Association of Western Australia.
Connectivity was not just accommodated architecturally, but also through the choice of materials and landscaped vegetation. While Indigenous flora was re-instated as part of a “sustainable recreational environment”, carefully considered materials such as timber were selected so that “the changeroom structure [could sit] quietly within the dune landscape” (although the kiosk was painted orange, to give beachgoers a recognisable meeting point).
“Building architecture is informal and adaptable in keeping with the beach culture and expected growth through use. Timber, the prime building material, has been adopted in response to the need for a maintainable while changeable technology,” says Bernard Seeber.
“The architecture [of the changerooms] is robust and open. The building is positioned immediate to the first dune formation and is protected and provides protection. Planning follows the dune and is linear, enabling connection in the landscape while facilitating separation of users through a single point of securable access.
“Careful consideration of the building position, planning and formation has resulted in an architectural solution that sits in sympathy with the surrounding natural environment and uses features of the natural environmental to enhance the architecture. Natural ventilation, light and shade have all been achieved in this intelligent architectural solution.”