Residents debate the role of Crystal Palace Park: May 28

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 21st century.

The dinosaur models in Crystal Palace Park, some of the last remaining remnants of Paxton's glass pavilion

The dinosaur models in Crystal Palace Park, some of the last remaining remnants of Paxton’s glass pavilion

The group is organising a programme of debates featuring high-profile architects, developers, planners, politicians and broadcasters, thinkers and writers.

The second in the series is being held next Wednesday, May 28, at Salvation Army Worship Hall, Westow Street, Upper Norwood from 7.30pm.

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?

Chair: Katharine Heron, Professor of Architecture, University of Westminster

Panellists: David Burchett, operations manager, Learning through Landscapes; Carlos Cortes, visual and movement artist whose practice involves public space and communities; Tim Gill, writer and consultant; Saskia Sassen, Robert S Lynd Professor of Sociology, Columbia University; Ben Stringer, academic, trustee Oxford City Farm Project.

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