Forgotten Spaces 2011 shortlisted: The Firepits, Crystal Palace by Studio 3 (Hawkins/Brown)
[Bromley] recalling the destruction of Crystal Palace in 1936 and evoking the hedonism of the outdoor barbecues at the Djemaa el Fna square
Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace housed the Great Exhibition of 1851, an international celebration of produce and manufacturing. Shortly afterward, the componentised glass and iron building was dismantled and re-erected in a different form atop Penge Common, in a grand setting with great terraces populated with water fountains served by two large water towers.
Awakened in an international festival of food and music
The building was destroyed by fire in 1936, the glow of which could be seen in eight counties. Subsequently, the terraces fell into disrepair and only a vestigial memory of this grand folly remains.
We propose that the Crystal Palace’s original use as a celebration of the meeting of nations and the dramatic manner of its demise is awakened in an international festival of food and music. Such a festival could be much like the outdoor barbecues at the Djemaa el Fna square in Marrakech, where all the senses are bombarded in a riot of smell, smoke and sound.