Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Croydon Is the New Barcelona [Pounds Sterling]450m Plan to Transform the Town; Gaudi Future? Barcelona with Its Eccentric Architecture by Antoni Gaudi, Public Squares and Miniature Parks Could Banish the Corbusian Modernism of Croydon, under Plans Being Masterminded by Architect Will Alsop

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Croydon Is the New Barcelona [Pounds Sterling]450m Plan to Transform the Town; Gaudi Future? Barcelona with Its Eccentric Architecture by Antoni Gaudi, Public Squares and Miniature Parks Could Banish the Corbusian Modernism of Croydon, under Plans Being Masterminded by Architect Will Alsop

Article excerpt

Byline: VALENTINE LOW

IT IS a place that gives concrete jungles a bad name, an urban nightmarefamed for its tram system and some of the ugliest architecture outside the oldSoviet bloc.

Now Croydon wants to turn itself into Barcelona, one of the coolest cities onthe planet.

The much-reviled townwhose one fragile connection with glamour is that it was the birthplace of KateMosswas today announcing a multi-billion pound regeneration plan that will includepod-shaped buildings on stilts.

With ambitions to become a beacon of sustainability, it will include a30-storey version of the Eden Project andinspired by the regeneration of Barcelona after the 1992 Olympicsscores of public squares and miniature parks throughout the town centre.

Intriguingly, glass apartment blocks will be linked by high-level coveredwalkways across the main Wellesley Roadat a time when apartment blocks with high-level walkways are being demolishedall over Britain as breeding grounds of vandalism and crime.

The transformation is being masterminded by architect Will Alsop, whosecentrepiece will be a giant greenhouse inspired by the Eden Project, withdifferent species planted in "sky gardens" on each floor. One of Alsop's mainthemes is to reverse the car's stranglehold..

The "forest of car parks" in the town centre will be hacked back, and theeight-lane Wellesley Road will be reduced to two.

He will build a pedestrian-friendly "emerald necklace" of parks, and bring theriver Wandle to the surface for the first time in 40 years since it was buriedin culverts. He even nurtures dreams that people might fish for Wandle trout.

The town centre population would be boosted from fewer than 5,000 to 50,000 bythe building of 20,000 new homes. The proposals, named Third City, are part ofCroydon's bid to gain city status after years of being overlooked.

Jon Rouse, the council's chief executive, said: "Croydon was a prosperoushistoric town in the 19th century and the history books show that it was areally pleasant place to come. …

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