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Big name architect sought for new £500m Crystal Palace plans

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The team behind plans to resurrect south London’s famous Crystal Palace has revealed that it is seeking a ‘big UK architect’ to lead the design

The £500million development, which was officially unveiled today (3 October) by London Mayor Boris Johnson, will be funded by the Chinese ZhongRong Group (ZRG) and is being billed as a ‘culture-led exhibition and employment space’ that will become a ‘major new cultural destination for the capital.’

Arup is advising ZRG on the initial concept and design principals as well as leading the stakeholder consultation. An advisory board including Eden Project co-founder Tim Smit, London Design Festival chair John Sorrell and the Prince of Wales’ special advisor Hank Dittmar will work alongside group chair Boris.

Arup director Jerome Frost, who was in charge of design and regeneration at the 21012 Olympic Games, said no architect had been appointed to the scheme but he added that the historic importance and sensitivity of the scheme would favour a ‘big UK architect’.

Newly released images of the scheme pay clear homage to Joseph Caxton’s original iconic glass building which burnt down in 1936. Initial concepts show a modern glass palace replica sitting on the same footprint as the original, along a 500m length of terracing in the heart of the park.

Plans include a modern glass replica of Caxton’s iconic palace

To head off inevitable concerns about how the development will affect the much-loved park, Frost committed to restoring the 180-acre space to its former Victorian glory. He also confirmed that provision for housing made in an earlier masterplan by German firm Latz & Partners’ had been ditched.

Cars may also be banned from the site and Frost said the existing sports facilities, including an Olympic-size swimming pool, diving and athletics facilities would remain.

An enthusiastic Johnson gave unequivocal backing to the scheme: ‘We will be giving Bromley Council our whole-hearted support for a plan by which South London will acquire a world-class cultural attraction and by which the park will be re borne and the palace will rise again.

‘It is a brilliant, original and simple vision to recreate Crystal Palace in a 21 century version,’ added Johnson.  

A planning application is expected to be submitted within a year with work expected to start on site in the winter of 2015.

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