Architects find their happy place at home in Freo

20th August 2021

Their outstanding designs have won countless accolades around the world, but for Fremantle-based architecture practice Kerry Hill Architects, there’s no place like home.

Kerry Hill Architects Directors Patrick Kosky and Sean McGivern both admit they get a kick out of overhearing something complimentary about a building they’ve designed.

“I designed a house with my partner down in South Freo and one day I heard this skateboard coming up the street,” Patrick said.

“It stopped in front of the house and we heard this guy who went ‘oh, that house is sick!’, and then got back on his board and skated off.

That was a really nice memorable moment. “We’ve both sat behind people at the State Theatre Centre and heard people saying things like ‘this is a beautiful room’, ‘this is a beautiful

theatre’, ‘did you see the toilets? They’re amazing’. You hear those conversations and it’s extremely gratifying.”

It’s the same for Sean. “To be honest with you that’s why I became an architect, to make a difference to other people through the buildings they use and enjoy,” he said.

“It’s great that you can be a part of these things and say that I was involved in the design of this building or that building, but I think it’s even better when somebody comes back and says ‘this is a

fantastic building’.”

The Kerry Hill Architects story started in 1979 when Perth-born architect Kerry Hill, who sadly passed away in 2018, established the practice in Singapore.

After forging his reputation through a collection of spectacular resorts across Asia, in 1993 Kerry sought to reinstate his connection to Perth and set up a small satellite office in Fremantle’s West End.


“At the time in 1993 Notre Dame had just been announced as a University campus within the urban fabric of Fremantle, there was probably Perth’s best architecture bookshop down on the corner

and he had family connections to the area, so there was a kind of gravitational pull towards Fremantle for Kerry at that point,” Patrick said.

“Kerry really was the foundation of the practice, and with our long commitment to Kerry Hill, Sean and I were very keen to continue and develop the practice after Kerry passed away.”

After the practice won the State Theatre Centre of WA Competition in 2005, the Perth office has evolved from a satellite operation to take on major projects such as the State Buildings and City of Perth Library.

The Fremantle and Singapore offices are now comparable in size, with both employing about 40 people.

“I’d say our reasons for staying in Fremantle are probably very similar to a lot of other people’s reasons,” said Patrick.

‘Freo... has a beautiful and historic urban fabric; it’s got great amenity with parks and beautiful green spaces; you’ve got the coast so close and a really creative atmosphere.

It’s just this amazing set of ingredients.’

“Our team can jog to the beach at lunchtime,” Sean said. “There’s always a group of four or five people that are running down to South Beach and back during their lunchtime—where else in the world could you do that?”

Having completed projects in the Middle East, Spain, Japan and the Caribbean, as well as all over Australia, the firm’s latest project is closer to home—the new Walyalup Civic Centre and Library in Fremantle’s rejuvenated Kings Square.

“We worked really hard on the design competition because of the amazing potential of this project, and I think we came up with a very responsive and appropriate design,” Sean said. (Which they won.)

“Looking at the way it’s taking shape, I think it’s going to be a really special building for Fremantle.”

“Fremantle is the accumulation of all of these amazing artefacts over time,” Patrick said.

“To have played a role in the design of one of the primary artefacts is a huge honour, and to be part of the ongoing evolution of Fremantle is fantastic.”

This article was originally published in the City of Fremantle FRE-OH! magazine. Click here to read the article on page 8.

Image: Kerry Hill Architects Directors Patrick Kosky (left) and Sean McGivern.