»What the map cuts up, the story cuts across.«

Michel de Certeau: Spatial Stories

Blog Comment

“Baroque” brutalism to bite dust

The ill-fated Preston bus station

  • The much-debated, now ill-fated Preston Bus Station (Photo: photolancaster.wordpress.com)   The much-debated, now ill-fated Preston Bus Station (Photo: photolancaster.wordpress.com)

Yesterday the decision was taken “in principle” to demolish one of the most extraordinary brutalist buildings in Britain, Preston Bus Station.

The local council, under pressure to cut its budget, took the decision on cost grounds, with a £300,000 annual upkeep and projected renovation bill of up to £17 million, making it uneconomic to maintain the building, which could otherwise “bankrupt Preston” in the words of one councillor. 

Memorably dubbed as “a baroque cathedral for buses” by Jonathan Glancey in the Guardian when last under threat in 2007, the building was designed by the Building Design Partnership in 1969, and has distinctive horizontal scalloped banding to its vast floors plates − making it look like a fragment of extruded mega-city infrastructure. It was the largest bus station in the UK when it opened, with up to 80 double-decker buses able to nestle under its flanks at any one time − meaning it can daily deal with an estimated 3,000 buses and 56,000 passengers – whilst above it can suck up to 10 football fields-worth of cars, parking on five levels.

It is potentially another high-profile victim of the divide in British public opinion on the merit of much of its 1960s and 70s public architecture − in an on-going icon or eyesore debate − that has seen other key “masterworks” of “Brutalist Britain” knocked down or scheduled for demolition over the last five years. These have included Owen Luder's Portsmouth's Tricorn Shopping Centre (1966-2004), Gateshead Carpark (1967-2010) and Alison and Peter Smithson’s Robin Hood Gardens housing development in East London (1972), which is currently under the axe.

The bus station − which has had listing refused twice − has been here before, having been threatened with demolition under a city-centre retail regeneration scheme first proposed in 2000, which has since been withdrawn.

And whilst the council, whose figures for the costs of renovation of the bus station were widely questioned, has held the door open to talk to anyone with a sound business case who wants to invest in the existing building, at present the likely future for the building is the wrecking ball.

So here is an elegiac short video by Andy Marshall celebrating the day-to-day life of the building...

  • Facebook
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  • Newsletter

Advertisement

RECENT POSTS

more

Recent Magazines

07 Jul 2014

Magazine No. 23
Mexico City

  • Essay

    Mexico City Buzz Blues

    The best of cities, the worst of cities by Mario Ballesteros

  • Viewpoint

    This Neurotic Tradition

    The hardware and the software of the city by Michel Rojkind

  • Essay

    Refashioning the Narrative

    Emerging architecture and design practice by Mimi Zeiger

  • Photobooth

    In the Photobooth with...

    Luby Springall and Julio Gaeta, curators of the Mexican Pavilion in Venice

>

28 May 2014

Magazine No. 22
Water

  • Essay

    Adriaport

    Czechoslovakia's 1970s plan to build a tunnel to the sea

  • Case Study

    Tropical Island

    A Big Brandenburg Oasis

  • Interview

    Holding Back the Waves

    Climate engineer Matthias Schuler achieves active solutions through passive measures

  • Case Study

    Stream Lines

    Repurposed Dutch water defenses

>

09 May 2014

Magazine No. 21
Acoustics

  • Essay

    The Hear and Now

    Jonathan Bell in conversation with Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics

  • Essay

    Aural Prosthesis

    Lev Bratishenko on Arup’s Soundlab and the rise of virtual acoustics

  • Found

    David Byrne

    "Playing the Building"

  • Interview

    His Master’s Voice

    Interview with Edgar Wisniewski, Hans Scharoun's "silent" partner

>

03 Apr 2014

Magazine No. 20
Urban Commons

  • ESSAY

    Renegotiating the Urban Commons

    Francesca Ferguson introduces the issue

  • Interview

    From Austerity to Audacity

    Interview with Fran Tonkiss on the emerging urbanism of small acts

  • Interview

    Reclaim the City!

    Andrej Holm on social struggles in a neo-liberalising city

  • Essay

    Architecture of the Civic Economy

    Indy Johar's manifesto for soft power

>

more

Subscribe to our mailing list Close

Uncube is brandnew and wants to look good.
For best performance please update your browser.
Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer 10 (or higher), Safari, Chrome, Opera

×