Defence Housing Australia, Fremantle

Hospitality, Industrial + Defence, Multi-Residential + Retirement Living, Retail

  • Project

    Mixed-use residential, retail and commercial development

  • Services

    Urban design and architecture

  • Location

    Fremantle, WA

  • Client

    Defence Housing Australia

  • Date


In early 2015 Cameron Chisholm Nicol designed a mixed-use commercial, retail and residential development for Defence Housing Australia (DHA) at the northern gateway to Fremantle. The scheme delivers DHA’s vision for an iconic vertical community with a unique Fremantle identity, and supports the City of Fremantle’s desire to revitalize the precinct as a sustainable residential neighbourhood.

The scheme addresses placemaking through the relationship between the personal, public and community realms.

In the personal space, the apartments deliver high-level amenity through functional layouts, access to natural light and fresh air, environmental control and the provision of adequate storage.

A range of communal spaces include a roof deck with an outdoor cinema, a vegetable garden area with shared cooking and dining facilities, a series of landscaped courtyards and a pool deck. All provide opportunities for resident interaction – whether planned or serendipitous – to foster a sense of shared ownership.

The public interface includes a new central laneway linking Queen Victoria Street to Quarry Street, and incorporates a café, a grocery store, a bike shop and an art studio/gallery space. Commercial office space can accommodate DHA administration. These spaces will allow the wider community to actively engage with the new development and create a destination which becomes part of the precinct’s urban fabric.

The patina of Fremantle’s unique cosmopolitan history is built into the design through the selection of raw materials and strong colours. Balconies with metal louvres of varied colour ensure that the two long street façades can withstand the rigours of intense low-angle sun and the south-west wind. The moveable louvres make a subtle reference to the visual qualities of stacked shipping containers – ordered but not permanent. The aesthetic is appropriate to the site’s industrial context.

The development is an innovative urban design which responds to its port city location and creates a new community hub with a vibrant, retail-activated streetscape.