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Skylon Redevelopment Moves Forwards

Fans of the retro architecture icon, Skylon, will be in for a treat as an almost life-size image of the structure will be projected onto the side of the Shell's Upstream Building opposite the London Eye for four days from the tenth of July as part of the London festival of Architecture.

It's been organised by Jack Pringle, with Atkins and Gleeds who are amongst the team who are leading the efforts to rebuild the iconic structure.

In a major step forwards for any reconstruction, Pringle has managed to source the original architectural drawings to help it be built as accurately as possible compared to the original.

Part of the challenge however will be the temporary nature of the structure. Although it was controversially destroyed because it was consider by some to be a symbol of socialism, the original designed time of Powell & Moya Architects had only engineered it with a brief two to three year shelf life - this time round the architects will have to make something that can last a lot, lot longer.

In 2001 a competition was held to masterplan the area around the South Bank where Skylon originally stood and a number of firms entering submitted a rebuilt structure as part of their plans.

Richard Rogers included it as part of the frame for the Hungerford Bridge replacement whilst Troughton Macaslan identified a spot to the back of Royal Festival Hall where it could stand and serve as a marker for those heading from Waterloo Station.

This area is currently tucked away so for many the needle would have been partially hidden from view by the bulk of Royal Festival Hall, something that would destroy the "hover" effect it has as the bottom would not be visible.

Michael Hopkins Architects took the opposite approach and dreamed up a pier to stand it on in the River Thames giving the maximum possible prominence to it and transforming Skylon into a marker for river traffic.

This time around, to publicise the possible construction effort, a website is also going to be launched that will identify twelve possible locations across the country that Skylon could stand on, perhaps in an attempt to de-Londonise the scheme.

The bulk of the finance has already been promised, so the coming months should be an exciting time for anyone who loved the original retro-space age needle as it levitated into the night with its three hundred floodlit feet acting as a beacon to tell Londoners that the dark days of the Blitz and Blackout were finally gone for good.

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