Celebrating the days of old, where knowing your neighbours was the treasured norm, the award-winning Knutsford presents a unique take on sustainable urban design woven with Fremantle’s vibrant character.
Following the sell-out first release of Stage 3, we chat with the designer behind the project – architect and Freo local, Michael Patroni of spaceagency.
As a long time Fremantle local, how have you seen architecture and design change and grow in the area in the last decade?
Unfortunately, I think the standard of design has fallen dramatically over this period. As the Fremantle demographic changes, and the homemakers of the late seventies and eighties are being replaced by the next generation, the design language is much more mainstream and suburban.
This is in contrast to the owner-builder restoration/renovation or new builds in a very Fremantle-specific style by the likes of Brian Klopper.
There are far too many oversized suburban-builder generated houses or units replacing original cottages. Again, the design of our commercial and central city buildings is generally uninspired.
As we are set for a new wave of civic and commercial development, perhaps it is time to revisit the proposal for all buildings of this scale to be mandatorily designed by architects.
What are some of the key unique experiences Knutsford offers its residents?
The obvious experience is the location and being part of the wider city of Fremantle. Being close to amenities and having a sense of place is unique in the Perth metro area. However, more specifically at Knutsford, it was my intention at the outset that the built form would evoke a sense of place and identity that was integrated with the city, but also the individual. To my delight, speaking with many of its residents and their wider circles, I have found that there is an articulated sense of belonging and identity in their reminiscences.
Where did the inspiration for the village-style feel of Knutsford come from?
The inspiration for the whole of our involvement in Knutsford has always been the City of Fremantle. There are models for urban living that have evolved through various stages from the foundation of the colony that have been very successful and continue to be relevant today. For instance, close packed medium density dwellings with good contact with the street, balanced with outdoor private living spaces and minimising underutilised setback areas to save on water use.
What are some of the high quality materials, products and finishes within the properties?
I would describe the material palette of Knutsford more as materials high in qualities rather than high quality materials, because this would suggest we have specified expensive, finely wrought or exclusive finishes etc.
The limited palette reflects a selection that is cost effective and robust, however we have detailed and combined them in a manner that contributes to the design intention – to create a sense of place; that of Knutsford as the next generation of the evolving city of Fremantle.