Arts centre roof out of character

Fremantle Society president John Dowson said they had asked Heritage Minister Albert Jacobs for a stop work order on the re-roofing, saying there was a “lack of sensitivity and lack of care” to the building’s original shingle roof by replacing the shingles with tin sheets.

“The main roof originally had a shingle roof and, in 1969 when major restoration works commenced, replacement shingles were expensive and difficult to locate, so the architect spent the best part of a year getting suitable facsimiles made,” he said.

“Now they need replacing, as they are deteriorating and were made of asbestos.

“But council has had years to plan for their replacement. Genuine wooden shingles are now easier to source than before, and tin sheeting is inappropriate for the authenticity and original character of the main original roofs.” In his reply to the request, Mr Jacobs said he understood there was an urgent need to replace the existing asbestos sheeting and facsimile shingles to make the roof watertight and to protect public health.

Fremantle strategic planning manager Paul Garbett said the State Heritage Office supported the City’s use of short-sheet galvanised iron.

“The use of galvanised corrugated iron sheeting as the replacement material follows a well-established practice for heritage buildings, including previous use at the Fremantle Arts Centre,” he said.

“Traditional techniques and materials are always preferred for the conservation of heritage buildings. In this case, the chosen traditional material has a predictable lifespan and closely matches one of the materials used on the building in the past.

“It is sympathetic to the character of the building and carries a low risk of future premature failure, whereas, by contrast, the longer-term benefits, both culturally and in practice, of using materials manufactured to replicate a look are much less certain.

“It is considered that the predicted overall benefits of the use of galvanised roof sheeting will substantially outweigh any perceived loss of heritage values.”

Mr Dowson said he would be writing back to the minister to reinvestigate the issue.