This page contains a summary of the ideas shown as part of the Dulwich Picture Gallery's 150th Anniversary of the Sydenham Hill Crystal Palace.


No doubt many more contributions will be made as time goes on; not only with specific new ideas but comments and debate on those included here and on general views of what is wanted for Crystal Palace Park's future.


The Crystal Palace Winter Garden - Alistair Cameron
A new Crystal Palace - People And Places International
Botanic Garden Proposal - Jim Williams
Viewing Tower etc. - The Norwood Society
Crystal Palace Sculpture Park - Wilkinson Eyre
Crystal Palace Corner Project - John Greatrex
New Crystal Palace Museum - The Crystal Palace Foundation
The Crystal Palace Subway - John Payne
The Mnemonic Park - Senaka Weerman
Water Sculpture Workshop - Ray Sacks



This proposal is based on historical analysis of what the Sydenham Crystal Palace represented, and what was lost on that fateful day in November 1936. We have tried to answer the question, 'What would Paxton want now?'- taking into account today's realities. Crystal Palace Park is Joseph Paxton's legacy to the world. He was both a visionary and an intensely practical man. We doubt whether ruins were exactly what he had in mind. Our proposal combines the aesthetics of the Hyde Park building with the footprint of the South Transept. This location is preferred, as the park's central axis has already been compromised by the transmitter - it leaves the rest of the topsite for landscaping and  'anchors' the Triangle. A suggested ground floor might reconstruct some features of the original North transept, two of the 'historical courts' and display spaces outlining the history of the 'Crystal Palace'. The left wing of the building would contain a multipurpose concert hall/theatre/digital cinema, restoring the great tradition of 'Music at the Palace' and celebrating the contribution of John Logie Baird. Suggested uses for the remaining parts of the building include a 'Paxton Horticultural Centre', restaurants, high-tech office space or retailing. contents

A NEW CRYSTAL PALACE - People And Places International

At home with her park, at home with her community.

Appreciated by millions locally, across London, and across the world.

Sports, lifestyle retail, fitness, beauty, views over London to the North and South.

Performances, exhibitions, memories, cuisine. Charitably and commercially based.

Conceived by South London people for all of our neighbours at home and abroad. contents


The principal feature of this proposal is twin conservatories, semi circular in section, and reflecting something of the original Crystal Palace - without trying to imitate it. They part enclose the currently derelict and out-of-bounds lower terrace, which would be restored as a structure of historic interest. The conservatories are sub-divided to contain tropical, palm, humid and temperate houses. The Top Site would be developed as a well planted woodland of indigenous trees and shrubs and incorporate a Visitor Centre giving good views over Kent. An ornamental garden or water feature links the top site and conservatories. contents

VIEWING TOWER etc. - The Norwood Society proposal


A total scheme embracing a variety of ideas which address key needs and issues which will:

Enable Londoners and visitors to south London to enjoy the views to the north; the Capital, the Thames, the London Eye and St Paul's and to the south; the Weald of Kent and the Surrey Hills

Restore the Italianate Subway of the old 'High Level' station for use by artist and the public

Present through virtual reality the history and times of the original Crystal Palace

Provide exhibition space for sculpture in a garden setting

Facilitate learning and education in amenity horticulture and practice its skills and discipline

Maintain a wildlife area contents


'A blazing arch of lucid glass / Leaps like a fountain from the grass / To meet the sun.'

The architectural approach to the site is described by Chris Wilkinson:

'Creating a building on the site of the Crystal Palace imposes enormous responsibilities on the architect. The Palace represented a huge technological advance in building, a talismanic edifice which defined modernity in architecture for a century or more. The site demands homage without pastiche, in a building which, like the Palace, acts at the cusp of engineering and architecture. Despite its size, however, it must seem as light as air.

'The sheer scale of the landscape requires a major architectural response. To do less is to waste an opportunity, and to do nothing is to fritter away Paxton's legacy. But a building the size of the Palace, or anything like it, would simply dwarf the local community which has grown up around the Park. It would also be unlikely to gain acceptance, on environmental grounds.

'So we have developed the idea of a Palace in the sky, large enough to accommodate major exhibitions, but taking up none of the precious open space of the Park. A building to be seen for miles around, a London icon by day and night, but also a building from which to view London laid out beneath. Instead of mass, there is height: the area is less than 10% of the Crystal Palace.' contents


The Corner Project aims to place a "Crystal Palace Corner" on the Crystal Palace Foundations; the first Paxton-designed structure to be erected on his old palace site since 1936.

In 1936 Paxton's Crystal Palace burnt down.

In 1985 the Crystal Palace Foundation erected an original iron column outside the Crystal Palace Museum in Crystal Palace Park.

In 2001 a full size cast iron Crystal Palace Corner was temporarily erected in Hyde Park to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Great Exhibition This was filmed by the BBC for their series 'What The Victorians Did For Us' with Alan Hart-Davis.

The Crystal Palace Corner was made at the Barr and Grosvenor Iron Foundry, Wolverhampton. Patterns were taken from similar original 1850 castings designed by Paxton and used by Henderson/Fox in the construction of Oxford Railway Station. This station has recently been dismantled and re-erected as the centre-piece of the Buckingham Railway Museum at Quainton, near Aylesbury.

In 2002 Crystal Palace Corner sections were displayed during at the Crystal Palace Victorian Day in Crystal Palace Park.

In 2003 ~Crystal Palace Corner sections were displayed at Chatsworth as part of their Paxton Bicentennial celebrations. -

This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Sydenham Crystal Palace and the 25th anniversary of the Crystal Palace Foundation. As part of these celebrations:

In 2004 Paxton's Crystal Palace Corner could rise again! contents

NEW CRYSTAL PALACE MUSEUM - The Crystal Palace Foundation

The Crystal Palace, once described as the first modern building, is internationally recognised as a landmark in terms of its architecture and engineering, yet nowhere is this unique building adequately commemorated. We propose that Paxton's vanished masterpiece and its historic park, much of which survives, should be properly commemorated in the regenerated Museum and Park.

The Museum complex would be the focus for the rest of the Park. It is envisaged that the following will be included: Exhibition and circulation space, with displays changed on a regular basis, lecture theatre, study and research areas, meeting rooms/conference facilities, reference library, archive storage, a limited amount of on-site parking, with priority for disabled drivers, restaurant, shop and visitor services, including crèche, lockers and cloakrooms, a state of the art camera obscura, with exhibition area to be located atop the Isambard Kingdom Brunel tower base, adjacent to the present Museum.

The museum would offer a programme of education and recreation activities with the Great Exhibition on Hyde Park and the Crystal Palace and its Park at Sydenham. contents


Hidden from the eye lying secretly beneath the Crystal Palace Parade roadway is the decaying splendour of a beautiful Grade II listed subway, one of the finest remains of the original Crystal Palace. The vaulted chambers of the subway are Byzantine in style, constructed in 1865 by Cathedral bricklayers from Italy. The subways original use was to connect the train station on the one side of the Parade to the Palace on the other, today the subway begins and ends in a void.

This proposal is for a sympathetic structure fronting Crystal Palace Parade, adjacent to the bus terminus and spanning the entrance court of the listed Subway. Its size would not compromise the overall integrity of the ridge but be sufficient to provide some community-based facilities and a focal point for this area. The Subway would be fully restored to become in effect a basement vault, suitable for one of a variety of purposes such as a Crystal Palace Museum, art gallery, restaurant or wine-bar. The structure rising from this courtyard may include a world-class butterfly house, science centre, reptile house and aquarium and community resource areas for all age groups. contents


The proposal is to build temporary structures around the park at strategic points of historical and conflicting interest: to narrate its stories; to display its wealth: to keep it alive and evoking its spirit. The designs of each intervention shall be fabricated directly from the original engineering drawings of the Crystal Palace, overseen by Paxton. It is also important to understand the Palace's materiality, its presence and its quality. It is for this reason that they have to be caste out of wrought iron and clad with glass.

These propositions include:

A mnemonic colonnade on the site of the palace.

A pavilion incorporating the underground subway.

A glass, observational tower on the existing foundations of the South Tower.

An extension connecting the tower to the museum.

A series of adaptable modules that can be reconstructed into responsive and sensitive spaces. contents


An important attraction of the Sydenham Crystal Palace was the fabulous array of fountains spread, in a formal layout, on the terraces below the main building. The fountains were fed by Brunel's huge water towers and inside the Palace was the famous Osler's Fountain standing about three metres tall with water cascading over a glass structure.

Water has always been associated with Crystal Palace Park, where there is currently a boating lake, a fisherman's lake and the mock tropical scene for the dinosaur island. There is a small lake around the Concert Platform and a visible channel taking away the overflow.

The concept of the Water Sculpture Display/Workshop is to provide an infrastructure which would enable water sculptures to be created and tested in a large open "pond" on the hilltop site. This would be the first of its kind in the world and would allow exciting works to be seen not only against the Park and open sky background but also in and on water.

The pumps would provide a variety of flow quantities at various pressures, generating either huge cascading flows, delicate streams or even fine cloud-like mists. There would be an air supply enabling sculpture with bubbling features to be created.

Public sculpture with water is quite common (e.g. at Somerset House in London). It is therefore surprising that there are no opportunities for artists to experiment with their ideas, except in very limited contexts. The Water Sculpture Display/Workshop could satisfy this need and at the same time provide an interesting, changing spectacle for visitors to the Water Centre, sightseers along the Parade and Park users for some distance around. It could also be a learning/teaching facility for schools, colleges, possibly industry and others who are keen to learn about all aspects of water. contents

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16/3/04 Last Updated 16/3/04;27/3/04


Order: the above list is in no particular order.

The Crystal Palace Campaign doesn't support any particular idea (even though it's chairman has, independently produced one - 'Water Sculpture'). We do, however, support constructive debate on what is best for the Park , its people and its surrounds.

Further information: The words above are those written by the authors of each project. If there are corrections, updates or additions, including pictures or diagrams etc. please contact us; CONTACT