The site of the Steam Clock and its surrounding public space presents an opportunity to develop an iconic cultural building which will not only act as a landmark and destination point, but will also serve as a catalyst for change as the first building in the regeneration of a new, regenerated historic waterfront development.
A New Cultural Quarter
Developing the Steam Clock site into a public cultural building, adjacent to the Maritime Museum and within a short stroll of the Jersey Museum, would create a Cultural Quarter for St Helier. Amongst possible uses, the building could house a relocated Jersey Arts Centre, as the institution is in need of a larger building. This new Arts Centre can double as a Jersey Arts Gallery and Architecture Centre, or it could perhaps be a joint venture with the Tate to create a Tate Jersey.
There is also the possibility to house the Jersey Library within the building. Libraries have changed, moving beyond a focus on books alone, to provide communal spaces where people go to work, to study, to hold meetings, and start-up businesses from their laptops. The cultural building will provide inspiring internal spaces where all these endeavours can take place.
The building is deliberately low-rise in scale to sit in context with the adjacent historic Maritime Museum. It has also been designed to be porous; split into two parts with walkways between the two. This will allow for the building to be inviting whilst maintaining the key views of the harbour from the Weighbridge, Liberation Square and La Route de la Libération.
The functions within Commercial Buildings need to be strategically relocated to release this land for prime development. Any development on this site would need to include the re-routing of the road to the rear of the development allowing for an enhanced public domain parallel to the harbour; a grand pedestrianised promenade featuring al fresco dining etc. This new boulevard would enhance the attractiveness and connectivity to sites further afield such as La Folie.
Such a development would also immensely benefit from a lock gate to the town harbour ensuring the sea level remains high at all times.
A typical example of a successful regeneration of a disused waterfront would be the Liverpool Docks, where the old wharfside buildings have been not only been transformed into apartments and hotels but also into world-class art galleries and other cultural buildings. This regeneration, in turn, has created a vibrant and lively public part of the city and has contributed to Liverpool’s success in being the most visited city in the UK after of London.
As this is a visionary proposal, the precise use and end-user is not determined. However, any potential development, rather than being any kind of apartment building, office block, or budget hotel, must be of public and cultural significance, and thereby can contribute to the creation of a new, regenerated historic waterfront development that the public would be proud of.