24th August 2021
Fremantle Town Hall has been one of the city’s most beloved icons ever since it first opened in 1887. Now the Walyalup Civic Centre is set to breathe new life into one of Fremantle’s old treasures.
Walyalup Civic Centre in Walyalup Koort (formerly Kings Square) has often been referred to as Fremantle’s ‘heritage of the future’, but one of its key benefits will be the reactivation of one of the most important monuments of the city’s past.
Unlike the City of Fremantle’s old administration building, which was demolished in 2018, the Walyalup Civic Centre has been specifically designed to integrate with the 134-year-old Fremantle Town Hall.
City of Fremantle Heritage Coordinator Gena Binet says the improved connection will greatly enhance both buildings.
“When the City’s old Civic Administration Building and Exhibition Hall was built in 1965 it effectively turned its back on the Town Hall,” Ms Binet said.
“There was no real connection between the two buildings, the floor levels were at different heights and important facilities such as toilets and service areas for the Town Hall were demolished.
“The civic building basically duplicated the function of the Town Hall and made it redundant, so the hall gradually fell into disrepair from lack of use.
“The new Walyalup Civic Centre will share the same floor level and geometry as the Town Hall, which will allow for original elements and configurations in the Town Hall to be reinstated, including the auditorium and gallery doors and the raked seating in the gallery. It’ll also provide the opportunity to activate the Town Hall’s spacious but under-utilised upper floors.”
As well as being physically better connected, the Walyalup Civic Centre and the Town Hall will also share their facilities.
Town Hall patrons will have access to the Civic Centre’s toilets, the centre’s elevators will provide disability access to the Town Hall’s upper floor and the Civic Centre’s impressive entry foyer will serve as a breakout space for events and functions in the hall’s auditorium.
One of the features that makes the foyer so impressive is the incorporation of the Town Hall’s rear limestone ‘heritage’ wall, which was carefully monitored, protected and conserved during the
construction of the Walyalup Civic Centre.
“It’s another example of how the Walyalup Civic Centre will allow more people to use and enjoy the Town Hall and ensure the Town Hall is preserved for future generations,” Ms Binet said.
The Town Hall has been closed during construction of the Walyalup Civic Centre for upgrades and is expected to be available for community use again later this year.
This article was originally published in the City of Fremantle FRE-OH! magazine. Click here to read the article on page 18.