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British architecture group fights to save La Frégate

British architecture group fights to save La Frégate

Monday 31 January 2022

British architecture group fights to save La Frégate

Monday 31 January 2022

A UK campaign group dedicated to saving buildings “that have shaped the British landscape” has put forward an application to protect La Frégate.

The 33-metre, cedar-clad ‘upturned boat’ – originally designed to resemble a large fish – by acclaimed architect Will Alsop has been a fixture of Jardins de la Mer since 1997.

While it wasn't immediately welcomed by locals, the building was exhibited at the presitigious Sao Paolo International Architecture Biennale, putting  Jersey "for the first time on the international design map".

But Express revealed in June last year that the landmark is set to be bulldozed under plans by the States of Jersey Development Company (SOJDC) to dramatically redevelop the Waterfront with 1,000 units of accommodation, and new retail, leisure and culture facilities.


Pictured: A postcard featuring the café.

The developers say La Frégate cannot stay in its current location due to the risk of flooding.

Since then, numerous members of the community have called on SOJDC to have a rethink – including architect Derek Mason, who worked on the iconic café with the late Will Alsop.

Now the Twentieth Century Society (C20) has got involved.

On the same day the SOJDC's latest Waterfront revamp plans were unveiled, the campaign group confirmed that it has put forward an application to Jersey Heritage for the building to be Listed last week. Express understands that a report could be complete as soon as the end of this week.

Listing would mean that La Frégate would be considered a building with special heritage interest – something that would be taken into consideration at planning application stage.

The group argue the café is noteworthy as a "small-scale experimental structure" alongside the likes of James Stirling's Biennale bookshop (1991), Alsop & Stormer's Visitor Centre at Cardiff Bay (1991), Piers Gough's Notting Hill flower stall (1993) and Michael Hopkins and Partners' Buckingham Palace ticket office (1995).

Lauding La Frégate's "fun, imaginative design", C20 Director Catherine Croft added: "There is a real tradition of letting rip with seaside structures, and we should be embracing it as part of that joyful legacy... We need more of this sort of thing!"

Will Alsop's former partner, Jan Stömer, has previously described the potential loss of La Frégate as a "great pity".



CLICK TO ENLARGE: A breakdown of the SOJDC's vision for the Waterfront, which does not include La Frégate.

She told the Architects' Journal last year that she felt efforts should be made to relocate it if it cannot be saved.

"The sculptural idea of the design is that of stranded "ark", which of course can be carried on with next flood – so the location is not so important.

"Certainly, I can speak for my late friend and partner Will Alsop, and myself, that we hope that La Frégate will find another place on the beautiful island of Jersey."

The SOJDC's planning application, which will be decided at a later date, is now available to view online.


Developers plan to remove iconic 'upturned boat' café

Architect makes plea to save La Frégate

GALLERY: Plans for Waterfront overhaul submitted

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Posted by nigel pearce on
I’d donate it to the 20c group on condition they remove it from Jersey.
The thing is ugly, of no particular architectural merit and was badly positioned so that it was not possible to look over the granite wall to the beach. The interior was barnlike and the seating uncomfortable.
Posted by Scott Mills on
I'll smash the thing up for free. It's dated just like the whole of town is!!!
Posted by Martin on
This building is grotesque (to be polite) & unimaginative and make the area look a bit common like a 3rd rate 60,s holiday camp!

I would also donate to have it removed! There must be a place for it in Hurd,s Deep off Alderney?
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