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Freo goes modern for civic heart
Winning design by Kerry Hill.

Long regarded for its heritage buildings and its old-world charm, Fremantle will get a sleek new civic heart to jump-start an era of revitalisation.

Award-winning firm Kerry Hill Architects, which designed the State Theatre Centre in Northbridge, was yesterday announced the winner of a worldwide competition to create a vibrant centre for the port city.

The $45 million civic centre is part of the $220 million Kings Square project - one of the biggest developments in the city's history.

An expert panel chose Kerry Hill Architects for the "simple, clear elegance" of its design, above submissions from two other finalists - McBride Charles Ryan and CODA.

The centrepiece of the winning proposal was the "City Lawn" feature, a grassed area on an incline, for people to gather on, relax and watch the activity below.

A Civic Drum - a sandstone cylindrical stack which contains the council chamber on top, staff lounges, community room and library in the basement - will make up the core of the civic building.

The underground library is designed as a single-floor "contemplative retreat" surrounded by a water court providing natural light.

According to the architects, the building is conceived as a "series of sandstone formations rising up to support a delicate glass prism" - the sandstone a nod to Fremantle's heritage fabric.

McBride Charles and Ryan, named as the runner-up, proposed an ultramodern public realm using dodecahedron forms and featuring a set of purple stairs.

CODA's approach was a tribute to Fremantle's hard edges and heavy urban form.

Altogether, 53 separate entries were submitted in the competition.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said the winning design had to be something different and Kerry Hill Architects delivered on this front.

"We are so lucky to have our heritage buildings, but we have got to start defining a new age of architecture in Fremantle that's entirely different, that doesn't try to mock heritage but that is confident in its own future," he said.

"This is modern architecture for the new Fremantle which is honouring our past but also looking forward."

'We have got to start defining a new age of architecture that's entirely different.'"Fremantle mayor *Brad Pettitt *