When the second incarnation of London's Crystal Palace burnt to the ground in 1936, Winston Churchill declared "This is the end of an age."
So today's news that a billionaire Chinese property developer might be interested in rebuilding the palace could well mark the start of a new one.
ZhongRong Holdings is reported to be interested in creating a replica of Joseph Paxton's glass and steel building that first housed the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, and was later moved and rebuilt on Penge Common, now Crystal Palace Park. The second version was considerably bigger than the first, and housed a school of art, science and literature, as well as concerts, exhibitions and other types of entertainment.
Ni Zhaoxing, who has an estimated $1.25bn fortune and owns the Shanghai-based ZhongRong Holdings, said he wants to build the copy of the 900,000 sq ft building. It's said that Zhaoxing has already appointed consulting engineers Arup to develop proposals for the South London site. The full proposals are expected later this year.
However, it seems everyone involved is eager to point out that these discussions are in really early stages.
A spokesperson from Bromley Council said, "We are committed to improving Crystal Palace Park which remains a jewel, not just in Bromley, but in London's crown. We are continuing to look at and explore all funding options, including grant funding, that might be available to help secure a long term and viable future. As part of this, we have had discussions with a number of parties and all of these conversations remain at early stages."
Perhaps the above visual mock-up from earlier this year might sway a few decision makers?