The Grade II Listed Alexandra Palace & Park has had a colourful history since it was built by private entrepreneurs in 1873 as a “People’s Palace” to educate and entertain the masses of London. Almost 1-million square feet (92,000 sq m) of exhibition halls, libraries, lecture rooms, dining rooms and a 3000-seat theatre sat in 200 acres / 80 hectares of landscaped parkland on a prominent hill in North London. Completely destroyed by fire 16 days after opening, it was re-built, but struggled to sustain itself financially until the arrival of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in the 1930s.
The BBC led the development of the two unique competing technologies for global analogue television broadcasting at Alexandra Palace – Baird and Marconi-EMI, with the latter was eventually adopted and is still used to this day). The world’s first television broadcast was made from the Palace in 1936, and it was used continuously by the BBC until the 1950s. Although still used for broadcasting until the 1960s, the Palace fell into gradual decline, with another major fire in 1980 destroying most of the West and Central wings.
DEVELOPMENT & DELIVERY
In 2012 Kerri Farnsworth was brought in to lead a 10-year £100m transformation programme for the Palace, including a £27m restoration of 8000 sq m of the partly-derelict West Wing. This included a new contemporary ‘Front of House’ entrance & public facilities, transformation of an abandoned Victorian Theatre and restoration of historic fabric (external and internal). Kerri appointed and led a design team headed by Fielden Clegg Bradley Studios, with support from Max Fordham, Mott MacDonald, Alan Baxter Associates, Charcoal Blue, Barker Langham, The Fire Surgery, Gillespies, Sweett Group, and Purcell Architects; and secured required Planning, Listed Building and Conservation Area consents. This recent article provides more details of the technical details of the scheme: https://www.architecture.com/awards-and-competitions-landing-page/awards/riba-regional-awards/riba-london-award-winners/2019/alexandra-palace .
A 2-year communications and public engagement campaign – including exhibitions, events, public consultations, digital & face-to-face surveys and dedicated micro-site – attracted several thousand visitors and over 2,500 written responses. Kerri also led a successful £19m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) award – one of the largest awards in the past decade – along with other private trust and sponsorship submissions.
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- New London Architecture (NLA) – Unbuilt Public Project 2016
- Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) – Best London Project 2019
- Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) – Best Conservation Project 2019
- Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) – Best National Project 2019
It is also a finalist for the 2019 World Architecture Festival Awards (https://www.worldarchitecturefestival.com/completed-buildings-new-and-old)