Subterranean culture venue for Crystal Palace

Published Thursday, 2 March 2017

Expressions of interest are invited for a new cultural venue in Crystal Palace Park, incorporating its historic subway.

The London Borough of Bromley is undertaking a scoping exercise to assess interest in a potential new cultural venue in Crystal Palace Park. Creative proposals are sought for a new world-class cultural destination, on a site which includes the Grade II listed Victorian subway.  Interested organisations have until 10 May to submit potential proposals.  

As part of the Crystal Palace Park Regeneration Plan, which is currently under development, Bromley Council is seeking proposals from a range of different cultural venues to develop this unique space. This is a scoping exercise only, which aims to assess the market in advance of a potential formal tender process being undertaken.  

“This is very much the first step in a process and we are seeking expressions of interest from a wide range of cultural venues to fulfil the potential of this unique location.  We could eventually see a proposal that becomes a viable venue in its own right, while ensuring the restoration of the subway.  The Victorian subway is a rare part of the surviving infrastructure of Crystal Palace Park but access is very restricted, with members of the public unable to see the magnificence of the subway that remains today” said Councillor Stephen Carr, Leader of Bromley Council.  

The site for the cultural venue includes the listed Victorian subway, which today runs underneath Crystal Palace Parade. It was engineered to create a grand entrance to the park for first class customers from the High Level Train Station (now demolished). With its courtyard and staircase section also extant, the subway enables the visitor to experience the grandeur of an entrance into the palace. Located close to the vibrant Crystal Palace triangle, with excellent transport links nearby, the new cultural venue would be at the beating heart of South East London.  

Crystal Palace Park is a Grade II registered park, originally designed by Sir Joseph Paxton as the setting for the spectacular Crystal Palace, when it was relocated from the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. In 1936 a fire destroyed the Crystal Palace building, however the grand terraces still remain. The site for the cultural venue is located on the Palace Terrace, the location of Paxton’s Crystal Palace, which was prominently positioned to exploit the Sydenham ridgeline, with spectacular 360° views across both central London and the Home Counties. The new venue could benefit from the high level views as well as the low level historic subway. 

The outline design for this venue is for a building much smaller in scale than the original palace building, but in the same spirit of materials, connected to the Victorian subway space which still survives.

Call for Expressions of Interest


Editor’s notes: 

The Regeneration Plan is focussing on improving infrastructure throughout the park, conserving historic assets and restoring the architectural presence and grandeur of the terraces, developing a new fit-for purpose large events space, and reconnecting the central walk, known as the Paxton Axis. The park's 2007 Masterplan was not taken forward to delivery by the London Development Agency, however it is used as a template to guide the park's ongoing regeneration. Currently £2.4m is being spent on a number of park improvements in line with the 2007 Masterplan, and a Regeneration Plan is in development to identify and deliver the next wave of £23m regeneration works and reshape the park's management and governance structure. 

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