COMPLIANCE WITH CRITERIA OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE PARK DIALOGUE GROUP
Wilkinson Eyre Architects
In July 2003, the Dialogue Group for Crystal Palace Park produced a list of criteria by which to appraise any proposed projects for the Park.
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the Wilkinson Eyre proposals for a sculpture park on the hill-top at Crystal Palace meet those criteria.
The individual criteria are set out below followed, in each case, by a brief explanation of how the Wilkinson Eyre scheme achieves compliance.
For a full description of the scheme itself, please refer to the brochure "Crystal Palace Reborn." [Ed. - see article "Crystal Palace Sculpture Park" - more information available shortly].
1. TO WHAT EXTENT DOES THE PROPOSAL RECOGNISE THE PARK'S HERITAGE VALUE?
The park's heritage value is promoted by:
The project is intended to act as a focus and catalyst for the regeneration of the remainder of the Park. Regeneration of the terraces, the sphinxes, the museum, the water towers and the heart of the Park is a huge project in its own right (i.e. £40m+) and is most unlikely to occur without a unifying theme of at least national standing to attract cross-sector funding. A national sculpture gallery has the potential to provide such impetus.
2. TO WHAT EXTENT DOES THE PROPOSAL RECOGNISE THE PARK'S GREEN OPEN SPACE VALUE?
3. WHAT ARE THE FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE PROPOSAL IN TERMS OF CAPITAL COST, REVENUE COSTS/INCOME AND FUTURE INVESTMENT POTENTIAL?
The potential cost of the building is £45m and enhancement of the open space of the hill-top a further £5m.
Sponsorship of the advanced technologies in the buildings by their creators (e.g. glass and photovoltaics) should reduce the total cost to £40m.
The project has been designed to realise capital funding from three main sources: the private sector; the public sector and charitable funding.
Private sector. The bar and restaurant facilities on the mezzanine floors total 3,000 sq. metres. Commercial advice is that, in the light of their landmark location, architecture and views, they can realise a rental of £1m per year net. That revenue stream has the potential to translate into a borrowing of £13m.
Public sector. The benefit of this project is that it is capable of attracting funding from arts organisations (e.g. Arts Council), heritage organisations (e.g. Heritage Lottery Fund) and park-funding organisations (e.g. Department of Culture Media and Sport). A funding of £13m is well in line with funding for large park/arts projects elsewhere (e.g. Battersea Park, Horniman Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery etc.).
Charitable funding. A substantial charitable fund-raising exercise would target corporate donors, charitable foundations and private donors. We are advised that for a high status, landmark project, £10m - £20m is attainable.
Fund-raising on this scale will require a new organisational structure established to deliver the project, of the size, scope and expertise of Tate Modern, Sadlers Wells or the Royal Opera House. The nature of the vehicle is less important than its personnel and structure, but would probably be a trading company limited by guarantee back to back with a charitable trust. This is the model adopted, for example, by the successful Baltic Arts Centre in Gateshead.
Many major lottery schemes have foundered through inattention to ongoing revenue needs. Like successful arts projects elsewhere, this project will meet its revenue needs through four means:
Expenditure by visitors.
Our aim is to produce a free facility for visitors. This will entail attracting a large number of repeat visits, and providing opportunities for visitors to spend money while there.
We believe that no permanent collection of sculpture is necessary or desirable a) because such collections can become "fossilised" and b) because the cost is prohibitive. Large quantities of sculpture in the UK are stored in crates belonging to the major arts institutions, for want of exhibition space. This sculpture will be rotated through the gallery, together with exhibitions of international sculpture. This will attract repeat visits to the gallery. This is the concept followed, for example, by the highly successful Baltic Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne.
In addition, we believe that repeat visitation will be generated through:
Expenditure will arise through:
Ongoing fund-raising will include the establishment of a foundation to generate charitable (and therefore tax-free) giving, together with legacy-giving and membership. The international status of the Park together with the local nature of its location will encourage donations from different catchments, both local and further afield.
Corporate / institutional sponsorship
Corporate sponsors are increasingly seeking to attach themselves to landmark arts projects. For example, Audi has an ongoing relationship with the Baltic, Axa is sponsoring individual exhibitions at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and foreign embassies / governments will support exhibitions by artists from their nations.
The main floor of the gallery will be the largest room in London, in a unique landmark building with panoramic views. It is capable of playing host to private parties and celebrations, corporate functions, awards ceremonies, broadcast events and the like. Some of these events will be able to co-exist with sculpture displays (the Natural History Museum is a good example of this.) Others will occur in between exhibitions. The number of private events per annum can be adjusted to ensure that revenue costs are met.
4. ARE THE PROPOSALS REALISTIC / ACHIEVABLE?
In architectural / engineering terms, the proposals emanate from a practice with a track record of delivering technologically audacious, award-winning, landmark projects.
In financial terms, the project is a substantial one, but in line with other large arts/environmental projects elsewhere, e.g. the Regional Music Centre in Gateshead (£62m); Lowry Arts Centre, Salford (£106m), the Imperial War Museum North (£28.5m); the Walsall Art Gallery (£21m), the Tate Modern (£134m), the Baltic Art Gallery (£45.7m). It is certainly achievable, provided that there is "buy-in" from regional and national bodies (e.g. the Mayor, English Heritage etc.) and from local people, and also provided that there is in place an organisation of sufficient resources and expertise to deliver it.
This should be seen as an opportunity, through the provision of a focus of regional pride and identity, to deliver a major regeneration project for this part of the capital.
5. WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS ON THE LOCAL COMMUNITY?
The main impacts will be:
Environmental impacts are dealt with below.
6. DOES THE PROPOSAL ENJOY THE SUPPORT OF THE COMMUNITY?
The proposal aims to resolve many of the dilemmas regarding Crystal Palace Park by creating a viable and vibrant arts facility while retaining all of the open space of the hill-top site, and recreating landmark architecture for the benefit of the Park as a whole while respecting and enhancing its heritage features. We hope that it will be welcomed and supported by local people.
7. DOES THE PROPOSAL CONTRIBUTE TO AN OVERALL FRAMEWORK FOR THE PARK AND THE SURROUNDING AREA?
Chris Wilkinson is the master planner for Kew Gardens, with experience of drawing together expertise to further a strategic framework for an historic park.
The sculpture park proposal would contribute to a framework for Crystal Palace by:
We have not attempted to produce a framework master plan for the Park as a whole at this stage, because of the uncertainties surrounding the National Sports Centre. However, it will be necessary to work with the designers of the regenerated Sports Centre to produce a unifying conception for the Park as a whole embracing, e.g., design, pedestrian links, signage, transportation strategies, marketing strategies etc.
8. WHAT IS THE PROPOSAL PROVIDING TO MEET THE SPORTS, RECREATIONAL, CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITY?
The gallery and park would be a major contributor to the cultural stock of the nation in general and South London in particular, offering the opportunity to view the best of international sculpture in an outstanding heritage park setting. It would be the only facility dedicated to sculpture in the capital and the only urban sculpture park in the country. As Antony Gormley has put it, it provides a unique opportunity to view sculpture against the sky.
It suffices to quote from the experience at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which has made a profound and original educational contribution with a far smaller catchment than at Crystal Palace Park.
"Education activities at YSP
Throughout its history YSP has organised a wide range of innovative events and activities under the broad heading of education and community. Using our outdoor workshop spaces we provide an exciting programme which includes public sculpture workshops, practical hands-on sculpture courses, guided tours and talks, lectures, outreach projects and school visits. Last year over 40,000 people were engaged in education work at YSP. Our belief in the value of the arts within human development is reflected in our commitment to lifelong learning and our work with all ability groups. YSP is ideal for teaching and learning about sculpture and a wide range of subjects at all Key Stages of the National Curriculum and beyond.
YSP offers stimulation, challenges, opportunities and visits that are subject specific, or cross-curricular, realising many requirements of the National Curriculum. Sculpture is presented in an ever changing setting where students may touch, feel and explore works of art, using their senses, imagination and intellect. A 'gallery without walls' gives students an opportunity to respond to and to think about sculpture in relation to the designed landscape, as well as making large scale sculpture of their own.
Teachers have commented on the outstanding responses of students and how classes, " get so much stimulation from working through a different medium within a new environment".
Of course, adult education will also be actively promoted, through workshops, lectures and courses. This is part of the commitment that the facility must engage positively with the local community.
The sculpture park and gallery will provide a wonderful opportunity for informal recreation: strolling, sitting, meeting friends. It will become the town square that Crystal Palace lacks. For children, it is intended to provide an area for sculpture-based play, offering children a stimulating environment and the opportunity to climb on sculpture and to play in and with sculptural water features.
It is not intended to provide sporting facilities on the top-site, since these may be adequately accommodated in other areas of the Park.
9. WHAT ARE THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSAL IN TERMS OF SUCH MATTERS AS TRAFFIC GENERATION, NOISE AND POLLUTION?
The building will attract some private motorists, but no significant traffic impact is anticipated for the following reasons:
No other significant environmental impact is anticipated, but a scoping request will be submitted both to the London Borough of Bromley and the London Mayor for direction as to which other environmental impacts require assessment.
10. WHAT IS THE TARGET CATCHMENT AREA OF THE PROPOSAL, I.E. LOCAL, REGIONAL, NATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL?
The proposal is for an international standard facility in a sub-regional park. To attract national funding, the scheme will need to enhance the cultural and tourism potential of London, and be capable of recognition on the world stage. But the main users are intended to be repeat local visitors, who will provide the life and soul of the scheme throughout the year. It is important that their needs are catered for by the provision of free facilities for education and recreation enabling local residents to forge an ongoing relationship with the sculpture park.
11. HOW DOES THE PROPOSAL IMPACT UPON THE LEVEL OF BIODIVERSITY WITHIN THE PARK?
The proposal should improve the level of biodiversity by introducing new planting and water features into the Park. There is no need to interfere with the most ecologically diverse part of the hill-top, adjoining the transmitter.
12. HOW DOES THE PROPOSAL IMPACT UPON THE EXTENT OF MANAGED PARKLAND AND WILD SPACE?
The proposal will greatly improve the managed parkland element of the hill-top by creating new green sculpture courts incorporating new planting, sculpture, sculpture-based play and water features. The burgeoning woodland near to the transmitter may be left untouched to provide opportunity for the exhibition of sculpture in a natural setting.
13. DOES THE PROPOSAL ENHANCE THE SPECIAL QUALITIES OF CRYSTAL PALACE PARK?
The proposal enhances the special qualities of Crystal Palace Park by:
14. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF PARKING AND PUBLIC TRANSPORT PROVISION? WOULD IT PROVIDE ADDITIONAL PARKING FOR THE LOCAL TRADING COMMUNITY (AND CUSTOMERS)? WOULD IT BE CHARGED FOR?
Please see section 9 above.
Parking provision is not necessary for the success of the scheme.
If the community felt it appropriate to provide parking serving both the sculpture park and the local trading community, this could be provided. If it is provided, then a charge could be made to help subsidise the park, if this is thought necessary/desirable.
A national facility on the hill-top ought to result in enhanced public transport provision to the area, for the benefit of the park, the residents and the economy.
15. IS THE DESIGN OF AN APPROPRIATELY HIGH QUALITY TO ENHANCE THE CHARACTER AND APPEARANCE OF THE PARK AS A WHOLE?
The architect is one of the most innovative working in the U.K., who has the unique distinction of winning the Stirling Prize two years in a row. His design of the sculpture gallery is intentionally modern, but respects the heritage of the Crystal Palace, and follows its predecessor by adopting the location, line and height of the transverse aisle, and using the same materials for construction. It enhances the character and appearance of the Park by placing at it is head a unique and daring sculptural building, but whose park-side façade of 40 metres across does not dominate the Park.
16. DOES THE PROPOSAL COMPLY WITH THE GREEN FLAG BENCHMARKS?
The proposal is consistent with all of the Green Flag benchmarks:
17. DOES THE PROPOSAL ENHANCE OR INHIBIT ACCESS TO THE PARK?
The sculpture park will enhance access to the Park both physically and by providing a wider range of facilities and activities within the Park so as to attract repeat visitation.
18. DOES THE PROPOSAL SAFEGUARD THE SECURITY AND SAFETY OF THE PARK'S USERS?
The Park will require enhanced
security so as to ensure the protection of its outdoor displays.
Further, a greater number of visitors to the park will itself enhance
security, as the opportunity to commit crime unnoticed is reduced.
The Park ought to become a popular, safe and well-used facility.
© Wilkinson Eyre
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17/11/03 Last updated 17/11/03