Monday, 12 March 2012

Lighting up Freo

One of the projections from Projections on High
One of my Freo highlights from 2011 was VJzoo's Projections on High which ran as part of the Fremantle Festival (for my other Freo highlights click here). The event was a smashing success and even my wife, who can be cynical about these things, was impressed.

We enjoyed strolling down High Street being enchanted by the images that were projected onto the facades of about twenty buildings. I noticed that there were plenty of people out and about looking at the projections as well as dedicated photographers using the opportunity to snap something a bit different. It was great to see a bit of life on High Street, especially in the evening.

The success of this event got me thinking about the potential to have more.

Night time lighting as an attractor?

A couple of years ago, I convinced my superiors to let me attend a conference in Melbourne on placemaking. The other day I discovered my notes and saw 'central activities district' highlighted in big letters. I recalled one of the keynote speakers (Carol Coletta) mentioning how certain cities had been working to create 'central activities districts' as a means of attracting people. Coletta commented that times were changing and cities were moving to create quality places to have a natural advantage compared with their competitors.

My rediscovery coincided with an article I had read about how New York was actively looking to make full use of and derive benefit from night time lighting as a means of attracting people to south Manhattan. In their project brief, the New York department responsible for economic development expressly highlighted the role that night time lighting would play in attracting people and adding to the qualities of the place.

Freo city centre as a central activities district?

I like the idea of flipping our dialogue from 'central business district' to 'central activities district'. I think that a key to successfully revitalising Freo is about imagining how many awesome activities we can provide in our city. I get the feeling that maybe people are looking for more than just a shopping trip and we're in a position to offer that point of difference that Garden City, Stirling, Cockburn and Joondalup just can't provide.

I'd like to see Council build on the success of Projections on High. I see an opportunity for having seasonal showings outside of the Fremantle Festival and eventually possibly expanding these projections beyond the West End and around the inner city. Like in the City of Greater Dandenong, tours could be arranged and a new economy could emerge.

A ten year vision for lighting our buildings could result in the type of success that Cottesloe currently enjoys with Sculptures by the Sea and see Freo begin attracting talent, residents and businesses due to its quality places and awesome central activities district.

Additional reading

For more reading on this topic click herehere and especially here.
To find out more about Carol Coletta click here.


  1. Already the Moores building in Henry Street is light in different colours at night and more of that along High Street should be encouraged. Has the City promoted the Moores building lighting at all? It should be in brochures, on the website, etc.

    Cities are made great by people and people using it. Small things count more than big buildings, i.e. the outdoor library. These kind of little feautures attract people to linger longer. Give them somtehing to do and look at, not highrise that intimidates them!

    Roel Loopers

  2. I agree Roel. Quality places matter!