ZhongRong Group and Arup unveil plans to rebuild treasured British cultural site
A Chinese real-estate development firm has pledged £500m of investment to rebuild the Victorian Crystal Palace, a glittering heritage form that was originally constructed in 1851 for the Great Exhibition in London. The glass-rich original structure was designed for Hyde Park by Joseph Paxton and relocated to the borough of Bromley following the Great Exhibition where, after many years of public use, it burnt to the ground in a remarkable fire in 1936 which was possible to view from 8 counties.
The first Crystal Palace was constructed using the cast plate glass method and wowed visitors with the vast amount of natural light that illuminated its cavernous interior spaces. ZhongRong Group intends to reconstruct this treasured development as closely to the original design as possible given modern security, safety and sustainability standards.
Mr Ni of ZhongRong Group explains: “The former Crystal Palace is celebrated in China as a building of great achievement. Its ingenuity and scale is magnificent and this project is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring it back to life. My intention is to recreate the palace and restore the park to its former glory to create a new destination for local people and international visitors. I have admired the Crystal Palace for many years and am passionate about this project. The palace’s story is fascinating and I am hoping to add the next chapter by providing a gift to London and the world.”
The development company has commissioned Arup to create a concept for the scheme which will see the reconstructed Crystal Palace supported by new landscaping across Crystal Palace Park. Plans are to restore the entire park based on the original concept with fresh planting, a central tree-lined boulevard, a new café and visitor centre, and a restored concert bowl.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has welcomed the move, stating: “Today’s announcement marks an exciting new chapter for Crystal Palace Park. This is a vision that could not only see a world-class landmark building reinstated, of the quality of the original, but the restoration of the entire surrounding park, bringing jobs and growth. Together with Bromley council and taking account of the views of local people and leading experts, we’ll now be working closely with ZhongRong Group to progress these plans in more detail.”