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Plan to rebuild London's Crystal Palace revealed

Plans to rebuild the Crystal Palace and restore the surrounding park have been unveiled by Chinese investment bank ZhongRong Group.

The investor is prepared to spend £500M rebuilding the Crystal Palace as a major new cultural destination for the capital. It will be rebuilt on the site of the original Victorian building, which burned down in 1936.

Described as a “culture-led exhibition and employment space”, it will incorporate the listed Italian style terraces, and other Victorian heritage within the park, fully restored for the public.

The plans for Crystal Palace include the full restoration of the park, based on the original Victorian design, through new landscaping, planting and a central tree-lined boulevard. Improved access, lighting and a new café, visitor centre and restored concert bowl, are also included in the proposals.

London mayor Boris Johnson will chair an advisory board to steer the project forward and to develop the principles that will guide the detailed design and plans for The Crystal Palace and park. The aim is to ensure the plans are of the highest quality, sympathetic to this much-loved heritage site, and fit for the 21st century.

Arup is already on board as designer. It was appointed by the ZhongRong Group to develop the concept and prepare the design principles that will inform the building concept in the next stage.

Over the next year, Arup will support the ZhongRong Group in engaging local people, statutory stakeholders and the wider London population as part of the process of designing and shaping the form, and role, of the Palace.

A planning application could be submitted as early as autumn 2014 ahead of work starting on site in winter 2015.

The Crystal Palace – further information

  • The original Crystal Palace was designed by Joseph Paxton for the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, in 1854 it was expanded and relocated to South London. The area became known as Crystal Palace.
  • The innovative Palace was the largest glass structure in the world before being destroyed by a fire in 1936. Most of the original site is now unused by the public with a small section used for small-scale temporary events.
  • Core design principles for the rebuilding of The Crystal Palace will be established by the Mayor’s advisory board to guide the appointment of an architect by ZhongRong.
  • It is planned that the Crystal Palace will update the innovative, translucent and delicate structure of the original along with its size and scale, which will be approximately the length of five football pitches and six storeys high (approximately 50m high and 500m long)
  • The high-quality design and construction of the new structure is essential to recognise and celebrate the heritage of the park, which includes a number of listed features. The unique Victorian heritage within the park will be restored, including the Italian style terraces, the unique underpass, dinosaur models and maze.
  • The Crystal Palace will be a new cultural visitor attraction for London with detailed plans to be developed, which will include free public and world-leading international exhibitions and events.
  • ZhongRong is committed to funding the restoration of the park and the development of The Crystal Palace, which it is anticipated will include a hotel and conference facilities, studios, galleries and other commercial space.
  • The National Sports Centre in Crystal Palace park and iconic television mast are to be retained under the current proposals, which do not include plans for new housing.

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