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Search begins for architect to rebuild Paxton’s Crystal Palace

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High-profile contest expected to attract submissions from top practices

An international competition has been launched to find an architect to rebuild Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace.

The contest is backed by the Chinese Zhang Rong Group (ZRG), which plans to spend £500 million resurrecting the south London landmark -which was destroyed by fire in 1936 - as part of wider plans by Arup to revamp the surrounding park.

RIBA president Stephen Hodder has been named among the judges, alongside Peter Murray, the chair of New London Architecture, former CABE chairman John Sorrell, leader of Bromley Council Stephen Carr, Hank Dittmar from the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, and Eden Project founder Tim Smit.

The jury will be chaired by the Mayor of London and includes representatives from ZRG.

The developer wants a scheme which will be ‘faithful to the spirit of Joseph Paxton’s original’, to house a ‘culture-led exhibition and employment space’ that will become a ‘major new cultural destination for the capital’.

Architects have until 20 January 2014 to submit expressions of interest and will be asked to demonstrate that their team ‘has the capability and creativity to rise to the challenge of creating an internationally recognised landmark building’. Three architect teams will be shortlisted in early spring 2014 to prepare a detailed submission including initial concept designs.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘I am confident this search will attract some of the world’s finest creative minds, many of whom we know are home-grown talents.

‘The key to the success of this exciting regeneration project, which is set to generate a significant number of jobs in London, is high-quality design working in harmony with the rich heritage of this historic site.’

Bromley Council leader Stephen Carr said: ‘I am encouraged by the desire to recruit a team of the highest calibre on a global stage and in a short time scale. The news underlines ZRG’s serious intentions.’

Chairman of the ZhongRong Group, Ni Zhaoxing, added: ‘The former Crystal Palace is a symbol of innovation and inventiveness and a source of great inspiration across the world.

We’re seeking an outstanding and exciting design team

‘We are seeking an outstanding and exciting design team to rise to the challenge of harnessing the spirit of the original and bringing it back to life in The Crystal Palace for this and future generations of local people and international visitors.’

Due to be appointed in the summer, the victorious architect will work closely with the lead consultant, Arup.

Full full details about the contest, which is being launched by competition organiser Colander on 13 December, click here.

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