Praise for Preston Bus Station

Good to see the article in the Guardian yesterday A baroque cathedral for buses giving praise to the Preston Bus Station scheduled for demolition for the Titheburn regeneration project.

It is cinematic, sculptural, heroic – and one of the most dramatic public buildings from the 1960s, writes Jonathan Glancey, who  heartbroken to hear that Preston bus station is to be demolished.

The station is a thing of swoops and curves. Great ramps whizz cars up and down the parking floors, while buses move to and fro below.

The article is worth a read as it makes comments on regeneration schemes that will be … an air-conditioned town-centre shopping complex with some “luxury apartments”, a spot of genteel public art, a few water features and yet more chain-store retailing. Tithebarn will, of course, look like every other exciting new “urban regeneration” project in Britain.

About maintenance ….   To reduce the weight of the cantilevered balconies, they were kept so thin that, in the words of the architect for Preston borough council: ‘In many cases this has resulted in inadequate cover to the steel reinforcements which in turn resulted in the need for continual inspection and maintenance.

About Preston  …  Preston lacks impressive historic buildings; many of its streets are lined with glum, run-of-the-mill office blocks and gloomy multistorey car parks. In another city – mainland European, not British – something as striking and monumental as Preston bus station might have been listed, loved and worked intelligently into a new development. It would take just an ounce or two of imagination to rejig the building and give it a new life.

About community and place … The building was created at a time when the car was deferred to, and pedestrians were expected to enter major new public buildings through underground passageways. This is rarely done today, not least because most city subways are, at best, frightening. The arrangement of underground passages explains why the bus station appears to be isolated, set on an ocean of roadway with no pedestrians in sight among the buses, taxis and cars.

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