UPDATE: Following ongoing discussions, the city of London and the Chinese ZhongRong Group have finally unveiled plans for the Crystal Palace replica, announcing a competition to find the “the best not the biggest” architects to take on the project.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: "Paxton's stunning Crystal Palace was a beacon of innovation in the 19th century, encapsulating a spirit of invention which was to shape London and the world for generations to come. Since the iconic building was destroyed, the conundrum of what to do with the crumbling site has not been successfully resolved.” Until now.
Check out renderings and more information, after the break…
ZhongRong Group’s design proposal includes an exact rebuilding of the Crystal Palace, to contain international exhibitions spaces, hotel facilities, and art galleries, as well as the conservation of the park’s unique Victorian heritage. Johnson is convinced that the development “could not only see a world-class landmark building reinstated, [...] but the restoration of the entire surrounding park, bringing jobs and growth.”
Chairman of the ZhongRong Group, Ni Zhaoxing, agrees: “London is renowned across the world for its history and culture and the former Crystal Palace is celebrated in China as a magnificent achievement. This project is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring its spirit back to life by recreating The Crystal Palace and restoring the park to its former glory to create a new and exciting destination for local people and international visitors.”
Although details of the architectural competition have not yet been revealed, Jerome Frost, a director at Arup, the engineering firm working with ZhongRong, told BD Online that the appointment of an architect is priority for the project. Frost also took pains to note that the designing architect (preferably British) will be chosen based on merit: “A project of this scale, opportunity and ambition merits the very best British architecture can offer [...] Our determination is to get the best not the biggest.” Construction is scheduled to begin in winter 2015.
The glass and cast iron structure of the Crystal Palace was built in 1851; it was the largest glass structure in the world until its destruction in a fire in 1936. The prefabricated modular design by Sir Joseph Paxton, an architect and a gardner, was completed in Hyde Park by 5,000 workers in a mere five months. Paxton’s simple and brilliant design paved the way for more sophisticated pre-fabricated design, while creating an unprecedented exhibition facility, maximizing interior space and natural daylight.