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“Derelict” Church House to be restored

“Derelict” Church House to be restored

Friday 14 August 2020

“Derelict” Church House to be restored


A once “shining example of Jersey's post-War architecture” that has sat empty for over a decade could soon get an upgrade to bring it into the 21st century.

Palladium Group, which recently renovated Colomberie House, have submitted plans to refurbish Norwich Union House - previously known as Church House - and add solar panels and a mechanical stairlift.

The five-storey building has fallen into disrepair in recent years after sitting empty for over a decade.

A recent review of the building revealed severely corroded windows, which have since been screwed shut to prevent them falling out. 

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Pictured: Built in 1969, Church House was originally designed by Taylor Leapingwell Architects.

Meanwhile, the concrete’s outer skin is “blowing-off”, leading to concrete falling from height occasionally.

The Palladium Group have therefore hired local practice Socrates Architects to renovate the building externally, while respecting the original design, and upgrade the existing office accommodation.

Nick Socrates, of Socrates Architects, said the central aim of the project will be to “protect and restore the building to its former glory”.

"The building is very unique in its design and is located very prominently in St Helier: right next to the Royal Square and the town Churchyard," he added.  

Pictured: The building neighbours the Town Church.

Church House, which will be renamed as ‘Capital House’, was once regarded as one of Jersey's better representations of Brutalist architecture, a term derived from the boom in office building construction techniques that swept Britain in the 1950s and 1960s, out of the early-20th century modernist movement.

Built in 1969, the grade-IV listed building was originally designed by Taylor Leapingwell Architects, who was inspired by the Grade II-listed Economist Building in St. James’s Street, London, itself designed by British duo Alison and Peter Smithson, champions of the Brutalist-style of post-War architecture. 

"This is a unique opportunity to refurbish the existing building to safeguard its future, while providing contemporary, high-quality office-led accommodation,” Mr Socrates said. 

"The scheme proposes significant restoration works externally which will create improved activation at church yard and street levels leading to significant improvements to the public realm and street scene."

One major notable Brutalistic feature was the desire for transparency evident in the use of large vertical glass panels at Church House. These will be replaced as part of the refurbishment to bring the building to 21st century energy standards.

Palladium Group and Socrates Architects have worked together to develop a scheme that includes thermally efficient windows and solar panels to the rooftop to enhance the building's environmental performance in a bid to conform to the Government’s carbon neutral strategy. 

In addition, Palladium Group wants to install a “bespoke mechanical and fully integrated” stairlift, similar to the ones used in listed buildings in Central London, including the Houses of Parliament, to improve access to the building.  

"We envisage modern upgrades that sensitively reflect its listed-building status, with a cutting-edge fully-integrated access system for the disabled," Mr Socrates said.

"The plans will bring a prominent local building that has been lying empty and in a state of disrepair for more than 10 years back into use and fit for purpose."

Plans have been submitted to the Planning Department and the developers expect a decision within three months. If they are approved, it is expected the renovation will take six months.

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