You may remember Les Lumieres [click here for images of the south elevation and the garage], as it was the subject of the January 2001 newsletter cover story. As often with major refurbishments, another set of architects is hired once the planning application has been granted and another set of problems arises. And indeed a second batch of proposals involving the replacement of all the fenestration, the roofing over of the outdoor courtyard area east of the house and the part removal of original purpose-designed fitted furniture was received for our advice.
The Twentieth Century Society objected to parts of this application and I was sent back to Jersey to safeguard the integrity of this fantastic 1930s house. Our biggest bone of contention was the proposed replacement of all the original single glazed metal windows with double glazed metal units. An expert was employed by the owners to defend the window replacement programme and was present at the site visit.
It is our policy to promote the retention of original windows in order to maintain the integrity and architectural interest of the building. A key factor in considering whether a building is suitable for listing are important original features such as windows.
We advise that the option of repair rather than replacement should always be considered first. Traditional metal windows can often be economically repaired and made energy-efficient, avoiding the need for total replacement. Many firms undertake this type of work. Draught proofing can easily be fitted to existing windows and the windows upgraded so that there is little difference between the properties of double glazed units and single glazed.
When poor condition makes this impossible (not the case at Les Lumieres) a like-for-like solution should be found. The principle of replicating should be applied not only to materials but also to the opening mechanisms and components, particularly glazing bars, so as not to disrupt the architectural balance of the building.
Double glazed units are seen as regrettable as the frames, transoms, mullions and glazing bars are not identical and therefore never look the same as the original windows. This form of replacement is likely to be detrimental to the special architectural and historic interest of this listed building. The glazing bars do not match the profiles of the originals and the transom bar is also of a different section to the original.
You may remember that the previous proposals had involved the demolition of the garage block, which was designed as an inherent part of the design, to allow for an indoor pool and that only following intense discussions with the owner’s representatives, was an alternative proposal submitted which retained the garage block. We were therefore very alarmed at the proposed introduction of a new retractable roof to the courtyard, between the house and pool extension (see picture of the original space). It would have affected and damaged in the most harmful way the integrity of this space, even if not visible from external viewpoints.
The owners also wished to remove some of the original purpose-built fitted furniture, a pity for it is so rare for the original furniture to survive in situ after seven decades. I am glad to report that the Jersey Building Sub-Committee decided subsequently to refuse permission to carry all the above works, as it was decided that we had previously taken a more than pragmatic approach and that it was now crucial to protect the integrity of this unique property.