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What if the Crystal Palace Cinema...
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Post: #1
11-04-2010 03:15 PM

We've been busy doing lots of visual makeovers in Sydenham and were approached by the people behind the Crystal Palace Cinema campaign to do a 'what if' for the cinema.

I thought I'd share it with you here as it's been discussed on this forum (any problems Michael, please let me know).

This one took ages!

The buildings currently in a really bad state and was visually corrupted by smokers cream and artificial blue paint (what were they thinking?) as you can see here:


For more images and info go to:

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Post: #2
13-04-2010 09:46 AM

This looks amazing! Almost like Clapham, would be great for Art House Indie Movies!Thumbsup

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Post: #3
13-04-2010 05:31 PM

I notice the makeover also entails the removal of Boris Johnson - I'm sure this will win the campaign a huge amount of additional support!Laugh

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Post: #4
14-04-2010 10:16 AM

The reason for this is either:
A. I added Boris to the poster on April Fools Day...but I didn't include him on the final poster. Hopefully Boris wouldn't mind as he seems to have a sense of humour.

B. Boris's support helped bring a cinema to Crystal Palace so his poster was no longer needed in 2012.

Glad you like the design. Are there any places that need the 'what if' treatment in Forest Hill? Any empty shops?

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Post: #5
14-04-2010 04:16 PM

Good grief, where to start...

The old fire station, the postmen's office on Devonshire Road, ex-Midland (?) bank opposite Boots, Louise House ...

Unfortunately, however, Lewisham Council have beaten you to the swimming pool....

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Post: #6
15-04-2010 09:56 AM

I may get around to covering Forest Hill.

The fire station was sold at auction recently for over 1 million.

It would make a great car or restaurant. I hope someone of vision has bought it.

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Post: #7
16-04-2010 01:14 PM

I'd very much like to know what the new pools might look like - the council accidentally forgot to add colour to their presentations - quite important details when you are trying to blend in a new building with historic old (listed) buildings.

So sydenhamcentral, if you had time to colour in 5? different what-ifs versions, we could have a vote here and try to get back on top of a project that might be on the point of taking a wrong turn again.

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Post: #8
18-04-2010 11:16 AM

Hi Perryman,
I'm not sure why the architects didn't render the pools with colour. I agree it was a bit silly unless the council messed the architects around with their deadline to the point that they didn't have time to complete the renderings. I know 3d modeling is time consuming, where I used to work they did lots of them.

I don't think it's ethical for us to do work for free that a paid architectural practice is doing on a current job. We aren't visualisers, were designers. The design is important, not the pictures. They are essential to show the design, but it's not what we do. They are just part of the process.

We are more than willing to create 'what if' design solutions to show how we can improve the appearance of local businesses (like we have for the likes of Kente), how we can improve empty shops or for campaigns like the Cinema in Crystal Palace. We like doing it and want to raise the design of shops as an issue locally. We're amazed at how Forest Hill Town Centre hasn't really capitalized on the Horniman which brings a flood of visitors to the area. If you go to Westfield, the area around it is still shabby and people stay in Westfield 'inside the castle walls' because no-one has done much to attract people outside. Same thing with Forest Hill. It should be a really nice, vibrant, engaging, friendly, villiagy place to be. And as much as I see East Dulwich being slagged off, it does tick most of those boxes and is a thriving high street so it must be doing SOMETHING right. Yet it still has betting shops, kebab shops etc.

Look at the surveys I posted in the Sydenham town forum and Virtual Norwood. No-one said they went to Sydenham or Forest Hill from other areas. Sydenham was described more often than not as 'shabby', which is a shame as there are some great local businesses trying really hard.

Do traders organisations and our town centre managers get together with other areas such as from East Dulwich, Penge, Crystal Palace Sydenham (and possibly Peckham) and share ideas, knowledge? Has a survey been conducted for how and where people shop, if they go to one area and not another and why? If so I haven't heard of one. All these areas can learn from one another.

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Post: #9
19-04-2010 09:43 AM

Sydenhamcentral, I think it would be great if town centre managers could take tips from more successful high streets. I am always amazed that Forest Hill does not have a more vibrant shopping area, considering the number of commuters that go through the station.

I have heard that the shops on Dartmouth Road are too small to turn in to viable businesses as they lack storage facilities. However, I have also heard that years ago there were many more shops along there, including a butcher and grocer. It's a shame that more use is not made of Dartmouth Road as I think it has real character. I try to shop in independent Forest Hill shops as much as I can, but I wish there were more of them - maybe not quite as 'chi-chi' as the ones in East Dulwich though!

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Post: #10
21-04-2010 09:53 AM

Hi Ivor,

I think ti's sad to see local businesses fail.

I think there are a few reasons why. One is that often businesses don't research the market enough before they start. Another is that they think they are in competition with the businesses that surround them when actually they need them to bring extra business to the area as a whole. We also need a strategy for our high streets. Once you used to go to a certain area for certain good. Books can be found at Charring Cross Road, Clocks in Clerkenwell, Electrical goods in Tottenhamcourt road, Furniture around Googe Street, Funky clothes and boutiques in Carnaby street, antiques in Portabello Road etc...

While some of these still survive as destinations for these types of goods, the supermarkets and superstores are the destinations out of town centres, from huge Ikea Stores to DFS from Curry's to Tesco From Dreams to Outlet stores, Matalan, TKMax etc.

In their wake lie the humble high street and no-one really knows what to do with them. They become a mish-mash of estate agents, fried chicken outlets, empty shops and pound shops all getting increasingly gaudy trying to 'stand out' from one another which actually has the opposite effect making our high streets look and feel like pretty depressing places to be.

As I said, I think it would be a great start to see someone in the council create a questionaire to find out how people view their local area, if they shop their, what they buy, how often, why they don't, where they go if they don't etc...and make this information available online to anyone who wanted to invest in the area, perhaps even produce a welcome pack for any potential investors and target the sort of investors an area needs rather than just filling empty shops.

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Post: #11
22-04-2010 08:16 PM

Sydenhamcentral.............. I love it. How super would that be for FH/HOP/Sydenham residents?

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Post: #12
10-05-2010 07:19 PM

It looks incredible. Roll on 2012!

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Post: #13
11-05-2010 12:45 PM

Hi sydenhamcentral - I think this is just fantastic!

Could you do a 'What If' on some of the development proposals in the Forest Hill Urban Development Framework such as the station? Have a look at page 30 (under section 5).

As an aside I wonder what the The Capitol would look like if it was a cinema once more?!

These 'What Ifs' could really kick-start some much needed momentum to make Forest Hill amazing!

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Post: #14
11-05-2010 11:55 PM

se23Fan wrote:
As an aside I wonder what the The Capitol would look like if it was a cinema once more?!

Something like this, I think.[/quote]

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Post: #15
12-05-2010 12:18 PM

Many thanks for the comments.

I had a look at the Forest Hill urban design framework documents. They look good and it's difficult to disagree with much of what they say.

It's a shame it wasn't implemented. It's a shame local shops weren't given the guidance on shop fronts or that changes that broke guidelines aren't policed. It's a shame our town centre manager hasn't played a stronger role in making this happen.

More generally about local high streets: It's a shame a lot of small signage companies create graphics by untrained 'graphic designers' who think anything that comes out of a computer is design, it's a shame that signwriting is a dying art, where trained painters create work of skill, beautifully crafted,it's a shame a lot of shop owners have to put roller shutters on their shop fronts making out high streets look like riot zones at night or replace original shop fronts with expensive generic metal or plastic ones. It's a shame that if you try to improve standards of design and appearance of shop fronts some think you are trying to make everything expensive when a clean, well considered, nicely designed, simple shop front of a business would not only help it's business, but help give the whole area a lift and help change the perception of an area, it's a shame a lot of business owners don't realize this, that how people perceive their business is important, that the most visible part of any town centre are the shop fronts and that ultimately a lot of people judge an area on the appearance of the shop fronts and therefore these shops can actively define an area. Not the pavements, not the bollards, not the traffic lights, not the seating, not the plastic hanging baskets on the train platforms.

But that's just my opinion. Am I wrong? What do you think?

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Post: #16
12-05-2010 05:52 PM

I was looking at photos of Forest Hill's high street the other day - it looked even tattieer in photos than reall life Sad

Suggestions for the 'sydenhamcentral' treatment
Laurel's Florist
While not the worst examples in Forest Hill, they are businesses which try, but miss the mark and might (hopefully) be open to suggestions

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Post: #17
12-05-2010 06:27 PM

Actually think Laurel's Florist displays are often very good! And the shopfront is just fine.

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Post: #18
13-05-2010 07:56 AM

I get a few emails and messages about Dartmouth road, a lot of people seem to think it's shabby. I'm not saying that's not my view, merely the views of others.

I will eventually get around to doing a bit of 'What if Forest Hill' but I have a few other things to do first as this is something we do in my spare time, unpaid, because we like doing it. I will soon be a local business as we are setting up on our own as an ecologically friendly design & branding company after 18 years of working on brands big and small. We liked working with Fairtrade, charities and smaller producers like Loseley/Hill Station, Lyme Regis Foods, Berry Brothers & rudd more than the likes of Tesco, Aol, Axa, Natwest or large multi-nationals (although some of those were ok like Waitrose who were brilliant to work with). We want to use some of the profits for good causes and where possible do work locally. The what if project is just that though. A project. That we do. Unpaid. Because we believe in this.[/align]

I think it's important to raise the design of shop fronts as a topic and get people talking about it as it has been ignored (or so it seems) by the council. There are very good guildelines for shop front design, created (and paid for by) Lewisham council. It's an excellent document. Yet of the shop owners I have met, no-one knew about them, very few had met the town centre manager (unless she told them to move their A-boards outside their shops they seem to have little or no contact). Why pay for a document of that type, or a document like the Forest Hill masterplan when you don't enforce or carry out what they say?

Even people who work for the council didn't know the guidelines existed, I found them when I met one of the guys behind the Sydenham High Street Improvement Scheme. I stuck pdf's and a link to them on the 'What if Sydenham' blog if you are interested:


Remember how beautiful Forest Hill looked in all those old photo's? Our streetscapes were far less cluttered back then. Shopfronts were sympathetic to the building, signage was crafted by people who knew what they were doing, shops were kept neat and tidy, goods were neatly displayed. There wasn't the amount of clutter and signage back then that we have now and there was, dare I say it, more taste.

Amazingly it's more expensive to rip out an original shop front than install a generic, nasty metal one.

It's more expensive to put up an illuminated back lit plastic sign (from about 1000) than signwriting and raised acrylic letters (raised letters cost from about 8 each plus fitting).

Our high streets used to be beautiful. Yet we spend thousands making them ugly.

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Post: #19
09-02-2011 02:52 PM

I thought this might be a reasonable thread to post news about the proposed cinema for Crystal Palace which was approved by Bromley Council last month.

A few more details are available on

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Post: #20
11-09-2011 08:22 PM

Here is a link debate on the awful and unnecessary alterations the KICC are planning for the Cinema building in Crystal Palace. Really awful.

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