Glass dome for Crystal Palace?

A CAMPAIGNER who defeated the Crystal Palace multiplex scheme has unveiled plans for a £45-million ‘Angel of the North’ glass dome.

Seeing himself in the tradition of Joseph Paxton, the architect who built the original Crystal Palace, Philip Kolvin wants to build a 54m-high national sculpture gallery on the much fought-over top site of the park.Exhibitions would be held on one floor with bars, restaurants and a function room on another.The former Crystal Palace Campaign chairman expects opposition, not least from former fellow campaigners, but says south east London needs an architectural icon as powerful as Anthony Gormley’s famous Angel sculpture in Gateshead.Mr Kolvin told News Shopper: “We ran the campaign hard and were always saying ‘no’.I then wanted to know what the ‘yes’ was.

“Every time you do something daring you get opposition but there was massive opposition to the original Crystal Palace.

“Also, 85 per cent of people opposed the Angel of the North before it was put up. Now everyone loves it.

“It would be shocking to see this on the Victorian terraces but Paxton was not looking back. This will light the touchpaper on the debate about the future of the top site.”

Mr Kolvin, 42, unveiled his project at the latest park ‘stakeholder forum’ meeting last Thursday but has no plans to put in a formal planning application any time soon.

Next spring, the design will form part of Dulwich Picture Gallery’s exhibition celebrating 150 years since the palace was moved to Sydenham.

A question mark hangs over funding the structure, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, which experts say could top £60 million.

Bromley Council’s head of heritage Peter Martin described the plan as “extraordinary and exciting”, saying: “It looks like the aliens have landed.

“I understand what they are trying to do. It’s a bold gesture which if done well could be effective.” He added: “It’s ironic it’s the Crystal Palace Campaign which brought it forward.”

Objections will be raised by Crystal Palace Community Association, also heavily involved in defeating the multiplex plan, which hit the headlines in 1998 when eco-warriors occupied the site and was eventually shelved in 2001.

An association spokesman said: “This scheme, which is more like H G Wells than Joseph Paxton, was put forward without any community consultation.

600450 Glass dome for Crystal Palace?
Date: 11 November 2003

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