If you suggested it today, imagine the reaction.
“Why don’t we build one of the biggest white domes in Europe, and plonk it on top of a precious heritage site, which sits in a location dominating the entire sky-line of our main town? It’ll be great, you’ll be able to see it for miles around, it’ll be one of the first images tourists get of Jersey, and it’ll dominate our perception of St. Helier for at least half a century? Oh, and it’ll be horrendously expensive and difficult to maintain, and provide zero insulation! You like the idea? Great!”
Precisely. It almost sounds like something we’ll hear during next year’s election campaign.
But, our predecessors went for it, and actually, over the years many have come to love the Fort’s roof, and it has slowly become another brushstroke in the general picture of the island’s identity.
In fact, we like it so much, we are about to ‘double-down’ and build an even bigger version on the town’s opposing hill, to house the new hospital. “You think that one was bad – check this baby out!” Quite.
There are many parts to Jersey’s identity – perhaps the most obvious being that if you need to ask what it is, then you will probably fail to understand the answer – but our buildings certainly play their role. And we are not just talking here about the clichéd ‘hero’ shots of Mont Orgueil.
Our buildings link together most of the major issues of our time, from climate change to population growth, crime, fostering communities, artificial intelligence and changing shopping habits.
All of those feed into the buildings we create.
In this edition of Connect (page 4) we investigate just how that connection works – and with Jersey about to embark on another Island Plan, albeit only a temporary one, how should we make sure our buildings reflect the island we want to be?
That will take careful research, attention to detail, creativity, legislation, goodwill and funding – but the results will be with us for decades to come, and shape the way we live our lives.
The current pace of change is only going to quicken, with the town once again at the forefront of that. The need for physical retail premises is likely to reduce, as is the need for so much office space – so what replaces it, what does it look like, and how does the detail speak of ‘Jersey’?
Those are all questions which we will need to answer in the coming years. Enjoy Connect.