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Dozens of architects vie for Crystal Palace job

by Jim Dunton Sat 25 January 2014, 1:00 pm

Around 40 architect practices from around the world have thrown their hats into the ring for the chance to design a "new" Crystal Palace.

Chinese developer ZhongRong International has an exclusivity deal with Bromley Council to create a new £500 million scheme that is faithful to the spirit of Joseph Paxton’s original structure, which was destroyed by fire in 1936.

This week, it announced that practices of “all types and sizes from across the world” had submitted expressions of interest in designing the development, and that the bids would now be evaluated and “up to five” teams invited to prepare more detailed submissions “in early spring”.

Caroline Cole, director of Colander Associates, which is running the design competition for ZhongRong, said submissions had come from as far afield as Chile and the United States, as well as from the UK, France, Germany, Denmark and Italy.

"The interest in this major opportunity is highly encouraging,” she said.

“We look forward to supporting the panel as they select the first shortlist for this exiting project."

The selection panel will include ZhongRong, Royal Institute of British Architects president Stephen Hodder, New London Architecture chair Peter Murray, London Mayor Boris Johnson and Bromley Council leader Stephen Carr.

Up to three teams will be shortlisted to prepare initial concept designs in the final competition stage.

ZhongRong said the selected architect was due to be appointed in the summer, and would work closely with lead consultant Arup on the scheme.

As Invest Bromley has previously reported, ZhongRong wants the development to be a “culture-led exhibition and employment space”, and indicated that the new Crystal Palace should update the innovative, translucent and delicate structure of the original - which was approximately 50 metres high and 500 metres long.

An Act of Parliament in 1990 specified that any new building erected on its site must be "in the spirit of Paxton’s original building", which was originally constructed in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851, but moved to south London in 1854.

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