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National Sports Centre overhaul begins in earnest - images

The rebirth of London's National Sports Centre - one of the most notable examples of Modernist architecture - has begun in earnest with the demolition of turnstiles and the opening of a ground-level entrance.

The move signals the first step in a £3 million restoration of the centre in Crystal Palace, which is to be revamped for the 2012 Olympic Games and then reworked as a dry-sports pavilion.

Under plans announced this week by the London Development Agency (LDA), which now runs the NSC, the turnstiles are to be replaced with a new landscaped entrance. Fencing and a concrete footbridge linking the NSC to nearby Crystal Palace railway station will also disappear.

This follows the opening of a ground-level main entrance and reception area, replacing basement-level entry points virtually inaccessible to disabled people.

The NSC's future has long been in doubt and until recently faced complete demolition. But last month Arup Associates revealed its plans to transform the NSC into a 'naturally ventilated pavilion' dedicated to dry sports, standing within a rejuvenated Crystal Palace park masterplanned by Latz & Partners.

The scheme goes in for planning this summer (AJ 12.04.07).

Commenting on the works, LDA chief executive Manny Lewis said: 'The rejuvenation of Crystal Palace Park has the potential to be a great catalyst for the wider regeneration of south London. The LDA will continue to work in close partnership with the local community to ensure our plans remain loyal to the parks history and spirit.'

The London Development Agency (LDA) is also proposing to replace the ageing pumping equipment for the Crystal Palace swimming pool, housed in the National Sports Centre (NSC) - the spiritual home of British championship swimming.

by Clive Walker

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