Here at Another Studio we've been working hard on a new MONUmini series - Lost buildings. Quite quickly we decided on Crystal Palace to be the first design to work on. It's hard to believe that a structure so beautiful and vast (564m x 39m high) was ever made, relocated and destroyed. Here's a brief history of this extraordinary building.
Outside: The vastness of this glass structure must have been a sight to behold in Victorian Britain.
The Crystal Palace was built in 1852 for the Great Exhibition - the worlds first international culture and industry trade fair in London. UK Parliament held a competition for the design of a temporary building to house the exhibition which would be situated in Hyde Park, London for a period of six months. Renowned gardener, Joseph Paxton, submitted a design which was derived from his experimental construction work at Chatsworth Estate. Taking advantage of new cast plate glass manufacturing, he proposed a modular structure which allowed for a much cheaper construction cost than other proposed designs, and so his practical, inventive and inspiring design was accepted by the panel.
Giant water lilies are said to be Joseph Paxton's inspiration for the design of The Crystal Palace. Nature was everywhere, as well as tropical trees and plants, there was also free-flying parrots, monkeys, turtles and a baby hippopotamus that lived within its glass walls.
The geometry of the building was dictated by the dimensions of the glass panes (a classic form following function approach) and with typical Victorian efficiency, Paxton was able to exploit economies of scale, manufacturing and assembling the building quickly and within budget. The immense building was constructed on a 92,000 metre site, spanning over 560 metres in length to assemble some 14,000 exhibitors in one space.
Inside: Abu Simbel Figures surrounded by exotic and extravagant flora that was integrated throughout. The Palace housed Alhambra and Egyptian; Greek and Roman, and Medieval courts. Sculptures, art and colours were depicted as accurately as possible with the sources they had of the by-gone eras.
The exhibition was a superb success and despite campaigns to keep the building in Hyde park, Parliament insisted it must be removed and so it famously relocated to Sydenham, South London. Paxon adjusted the design for the new site and it opened in 1854 to become a great tourist attraction and venue for exhibitions and events.
In 1936 there was a catastrophic fire that destroyed the building and today only a few remnants of the Palace can be found in Crystal Park. New building proposals have been received for the site, any successful design would need to adhere to the 1990 The Crystal Palace Act which states a new building should reflect the original Paxton design.
The Crystal Palace consumed by flames.
We've recreated a miniature version of Crystal Palace. The model kit includes a sheet of stainless steel pieces which fold and lock together to create the miniature structure. Each model kit includes step-by-step assembly instructions and a short building history which is all packed into an attractive envelope making them a great souvenir of this incredible building.
You can buy this architectural model from us here