Sculpture Park and Cultural Building, South East London

The WILKINSON EYRE studio will be setting a design brief for a Sculpture Park and Cultural Building on the site of the old Crystal Palace at Sydenham Hill in South East London.The original Crystal Palace was designed by Joseph Paxton and built in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851 but this was dismantled after 6 months and re-erected by Paxton on the 100 acre site at Sydenham as an exhibition and concert hall set in landscaped gardens.It was a huge, almost fully glazed building enclosing a space of 18 acres which attracted 1 million visitors each year until it was accidentally burnt down in 1936. Since then no buildings have been built on the site and it has achieved an almost sacred status.The project brief for a Sculpture Park, an enclosed Exhibition Space of 45,000 sq ft plus Education Centre of 5,000 sq ft and associated restaurant, cafi and bar is intended to help regenerate the surrounding area and make a visual focus to the park.The aims of the project are to design a modern building in an historic context which pushes the boundaries of technology as far today as Paxton achieved 150 years ago. This does not necessarily mean that is has to be an all glazed building.The project brings together the two disciplines of Architecture and Engineering and raises the issues of Art and Science. Please don\’t think of this as simply a functional design brief, we are looking for poetic concepts which develop strong responses to this important site.REFERENCE MATERIALBridging Art & Science, Wilkinson Eyre Architecture, published by Booth Clibborn Editions in 2001.Lost Masterpieces Architecture 3 published by PhaidonA Thing in Disguise. The Visonary Life of Joseph Paxton by Kate Colquhoun published by Fourth Estate in 2003.The Glass House by John Hix published by the MIT Press 1974The Crystal Palace by Patrick Beaver published by Phillimore 1986