Could 1937 Airport building return to its original form?

THE Airport’s 1937 terminal building should be pared back to reveal its original design, according to Save Jersey’s Heritage’s founder.

Picture: TONY PIKE. (30364306)
Picture: TONY PIKE. (30364306)

Last month the aviation regulator confirmed that it was not necessary to demolish the historic building, and Ports of Jersey have confirmed that it will be retained in new plans for the Airport, raising questions about how it should be reused.

And Alastair Layzell, who lobbied on behalf of Save Jersey’s Heritage for the terminal to be retained, believes that the original design from the mid-1930s could be recreated as part of the redevelopment.

‘Additions to buildings tell a story of social history and architectural development, and the two wings were added in the early 1950s and the arrivals hall bolted on air-side later. You can usually reach a consensus and nobody objected to removal of the 1980s additions on the roof but there is a discussion to be had about whether the 1952 wings come off.

‘I personally think it would be a good thing to take [them] off and bring the building back pretty much to the original design. On the question of the air-side, I would hope that Ports of Jersey would find a way of putting the arrivals hall somewhere else. If they are to do the ‘one box solution’, putting arrivals where security is, the big shed could be removed which would mean that the front façade would be exposed and you could restore that, which would look very handsome indeed. But these are all judgments to be made,’ he said.

Mr Layzell was responding to news that the threat of demolition has been removed with the issuing of updated instructions by the Island’s acting director of civil aviation Inez Bartolo. It comes 30 years after the creation of Save Jersey’s Heritage in response to the proposed demolition of another landmark building – Government House – which was forestalled with the help of a 10,000-strong petition and letters of support which included one from the late Queen Mother.

He said that the example that could be learned today from some of the world’s leading architects – including some he has interviewed for his series of programmes the Art of Architecture for Sky Arts – was the importance of new buildings respecting their surroundings, something which has often not been the case in Jersey, he added.

‘Lyndon Johnson said that if you wanted to get things done, you had to have your hands on the levers of power. I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s it. We do our best as campaigners and I did my ten years in politics but you’ve got to have your hands on the levers of power.

‘It’s got to come from the top – what it requires is a vision and I don’t really see one. We have a financial vision through the spending plans but I don’t see that cultural vision yet,’ he said.

Mr Layzell is the subject of the Saturday interview on pages 10 and 11 of this weekend's JEP.

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