Private development, public amenity? Debate on the future of urban space in Crystal Palace Park to be hosted on June 28th by The Information Project group

By - Saturday 14th June, 2014

The Information Project, a group of Crystal Palace, has started a debate on the proposals to redevelop Crystal Palace Park and seeks to contribute to discussion about community, place, culture and design in the 21st century. On 28th June, in the third debate, ‘Heritage and Legacy: in the shadow of dinosaurs’, the group will consider the role of private development in public amenity.

Time: 7:30pm, Saturday 28th June 2014

Location: Salvation Army Worship Hall, Westow Street, Upper Norwood, SE19 3AF

The concept of the park can be used to reinforce community ties. Image used with permission.

Release begins: With proposals to redevelop Crystal Palace park, a group of local residents have started The Information Project to publicise the possibilities for the park and to help create a critical, intellectual debate about the identity of community, place, culture and design for the twenty-first century.

The group is organising a programme of debates featuring high profile architects, developers, planners, politicians and London based broadcasters, thinkers and writers. There are also plans to include local residents in a visioning exercise.

Continuing the theme of ‘who owns culture?’, the premise of this second session is to discuss and develop ideas of the outside in the urban setting. The vacant symbols of past occupation haunt the spaces of Crystal Palace park, and in those too there can be inspiration. The panel will reflect on the social and physical benefits of ‘play’ and ‘space’ with multi-generational use.

Questions to be asked and debated include: how do people interact with the park? What are the methods for engagement to provide a catalyst for sustained, safer use? Discussion will include practical aspects of design and management for facilitating an open learning resource, creating opportunity for play and keeping the sense of open, democratic space. Alternative trajectories for the park as a community benefit across all ages will also be considered.

The concept of the park can be used to reinforce community ties, and as Crystal Palace sits across five boroughs, the aspect of it being ‘on the edge’ of geopolitical borderlines provides an energy that makes it a special place. The panel will debate the question whether through stakeholder involvement, is it possible to mesh consensus with differences to maintain the rich urban vitality in the future?

Continuing the theme of ‘What is…’, the premise of this third session is to discuss and develop the ‘strands’ that link from historical precedent to current trends.The discussion will be about ‘culture in the 21st century’, and in this session we will be using the comparison of historical trends that shaped the original Crystal Palace /Crystal Palace Park with the new emergent trends in urban space.

Should Crystal Palace Park be a destination (again; or is it already?) – the notion of the urban-cultural-tourist is more than a savant-flaneur and seems to be driving economy more and more in London.

The post Olympic Legacy created an illusion of large-scale festivity which seems unsustainable – and a CPP National Sports Centre has been demoted. Does Crystal Palace need regeneration, or is the geo-political boundary making it unsustainable to subsidise a peripheral amenity which better serves neighbouring populations – and is it right that this matters in austerity times that finances prescribe civic pride and opportunity?

Is private development the only way to germinate community? Are there policy mechanisms or means to avoid removing a public amenity from the public purse?


Dr John Bold, Reader in Architecture, former Head of Architecture for the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England

Leo Hollis, historian & urbanist, ‘cities are good for you’

Peter Wynne Rees, Professor of Places and City Planning, The Bartlett, UCL

+ guest chair: TBC

Director: Dagmar Binsted RIBA, Dipl.-Ing. (Technische Universität München), PG Cert (Bartlett, UCL)




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  • Kasper Seward

    Went to the last discussion about the future of Crystal Palace Park and proved most interesting. Wonder if someone could clarify, the date on the flyer says 25th of June which is next Wednesday and not Saturday the 28th as in the article? I was also told the 25th by a member of the Information Project at the Crystal Palace Park visitor centre where there is currently also a survey by Mayor of London and Bromley Council about how best to spend the 2.4 million pounds allocated to the park in the next few years.