Public Submissions - Manjimup, Victoria Park.

proposed Woolworths store (image Taylor Robinson - DA)
I am working on public submissions (if I find I have something important to say) on two propositions:

Town of Victoria Park - Plan for the Future
"5. A New Mission: Victoria Park - Vibrant Lifestyle". Uh-oh.

A new Woolworths Store for Manjimup (proposal designed by Taylor Robinson Architects).
Facebook Campaign (organised by Mary Nixon)
Documents on the Shire of Manjimup website

Some people are quite impassioned - the site is on the bypass (which wasn't really meant for building on [I need to check this assertion against the local planning scheme], and will cause the building to become something of an emblem for the town), removed from the existing shopping areas, and includes a historic shed which is apparently heritage listed. I haven't looked at how the scheme treats this shed as yet.

existing 'Stan's Machinery' shed, former butter and cream factory (image: Mary Nixon, 2010)

Manjimup: Stan's Machinery and Palm Trees - Listing in Heritage Places database


Thoughts after reading the DA, the traffic consultant's report and examining the drawings available on the Shire of Manjimup website:

- The building (as shown in the drawings, and described by the text in the DA) does not seem to match up to many of the assertions of architects.

 -The development will "encourage passing motorists to stop and enter the town". The buildings (there are 3 proposed) are spaced out along the highway, and to my mind would probably do the opposite - at the moment, both main supermarkets (Woolworths and Coles) are situated within the town centre, so passing motorists do indeed need to enter the town to visit one. With the proposed scheme, they will not have to venture off the highway.

-Material strategy seems sound - low maintenence and logevity are promoted (as well as various other factors). The report is seemingly quite disparaging of Manjimup's built stock. "Limited historical or contextual evidence of 'locally sourced materials' or 'original non-residential vernacular'". The report also notes (under sustainability) that "the applicant's architects have researched what materials are available locally (and there are very few)". Sad days for a former timber town which once supplied vast amounts of Jarrah to build Perth.

-Environmental strategy seems poor - there is no mention of passive solar or natural ventilation and the list of operational strategies supplied by Woolworths boils down to: the use of fluro and LED lights, covering the fridges at night, having air-con with an economy mode. A number of points cite gas being used as a fuel, which is unlikely as Manjimup is not on a piped gas system (like Perth), with gas being supplied in small cylinders.

- Heritage. Probably the most disappointing part. The 3 palm trees will be retained, and the old building (listed  as "High level of protection", local significance). The DA says "It is the design intention of the Applicant and Architect to...take creative inspiration from the built form and materiality of "Stan's Machinery" in the new commercial development". If, by this, they mean the line which echoes the profile of the 'Stan's Machinery' shed, and the use of bricks, then I am extremely disappointed at what seems like a blatant strategy to appease protests about disregard for heritage with minimum cost. I can easily think of a range of ideas that would engage with the exisisting built heritage in a meaningful manner - everything from retaining the building and intergrating it into the new one, to using the materials (for example the red bricks from the back) in new walls. Disappointed.

-Some of the strategies for pedestrian and vehicle access across the rail reserve look interesting. Overall though, the proposal has very little regard for street edge, being virtually entirely surrounded by car-parking. It's the shopping centre and Manjimup really does not need (must all growth of towns at some point mean the addition of a big, new shopping centre on the edge of the town centre? - it's happened in Bunbury and Albany), the meet&chat street life of Manjimup, in the outdoors in a great climate, is one of the town's greatest strengths. I am going to test some of my ideas with diagrams.

-Mary Nixon, a local activist who I have been discussing this with, has suggested a good use for the site would be using the existing building as a gallery, and planting the (currently) machinery yard with trees (as she is keen that Manjimup not display an image of 'super-market town' to the audience passing on the highway), and has asked me to do a visualisation to help her communicate her ideas to council and people in the town. I have said that I would be happy to do this, but have suggested that a more effective method (or additional method) would be to look at precendents - so any examples (or thoughts) of attractors on highways and good conversions of similar heritage buildings would be welcome.


Produced a quick photoshop image to illustrate Mary Nixon's ideas for the site.

image for MN - Frazer Macfarlane 2011


AJH said...

hmmm I think a conversation might be needed, from initial glance, I agree that the Heritage Component, Material Strategy and environment strategy (to a degree) need SERIOUS WORK.

If the concerned members of the public are very serious about the lack of Heritage regard in the proposal then I suggest a delegate contacts the regional heritage advisor to the Shire of Manjimup, I think it is in the South West?
[ http://www.heritage.wa.gov.au/local-government/Heritage-Advisors.html ]
I can find out from others. The regional heritage advisor should be aware of the proposal and also any pitfalls to the site eg condition of the building.

There are three choices as I see for 'Stan's Machinery' Shed.
- total retention plus adaptation (condition of the building will determine feasibility)
- partial retention but no facadism and some interpretation
-Detailed Interpretation or at least a commitment for this by the designers and the council at DA stage!!!! This could be comprised of using the timber/ building materials for a public artwork proposal, interesting signs and plaques (snore), floor/ground treatments to interpret building footprint, etc

MI sites are regularly demolished, even when they have a high TP Protection status, this status means very little, so there would be a need to demonstrate that this building is well regarded and valued by the community, not just MI entry 246 etc. A petition to begin with focusing on the retention of an important/valued building, but also the gathering of any local stories relating to the goings on of the building in times gone past, as MI entries are usually very vague. Also why not get the local paper on board with some 'great local stories' about the place and the site.

The heritage paragraph is laughable, 'creative inspiration' is wholly and totally unacceptable, and this paragraph should refer to an interpretation strategy, for all occupants/visitors of the proposal to understand the local significance of the previously erected building and site, deemed as 'an important part in the manjimup dairy industry' and of significance in the categories of aesthetic, social, representativeness, historic and rarity (why rare??).

My initial thoughts are why the specialty shops can't be housed in Stan's Machinery Shed?? a market stall kind of plan or plenty of glass partitions. I would say a great example of this is the adaptation of Balingup's packing sheds for this exact purpose and boy does that make you stop on South Western Highway to have a look.

Funnily enough their attempt at interpreting Stan's Machinery shed profile through the canopy extension is neither notated on drawing North Elevation (Ralston Street View) or made mention in the report hmmm?

Reduction of embodied energy through retention of building, as they mention embodied energy in end of DA report.

OK sleepy!

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