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Why we should save Preston Bus Station (Part Two)

Posted on - 29th June, 2011 - 9:55am | Author - | Posted in - Campaigns

By Demos on Flickr

This is a guest post by the Preston Bus Station blog. PART 2: Preston Bus Station brings a building of landmark status to the city and it should be celebrated and nurtured as much as the Harris Museum, the flag market, Winckley Square or any of the city’s other gems.

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There is one building in Preston that has attracted significantly more national attention than any other or literally anything else, in Preston recently. It is of course Preston Bus Station. Thankfully all of this coverage has been positive, surprising when you consider the barely maintained state of the building (which is the responsibility of its owner Preston City Council), and has certainly brought the city into the minds of many outside of the area.

Earlier in the year there was The Preston Bus Station Song, a light hearted lyrical masterpiece created for a children’s TV show on the BBC. Whilst it wasn’t an architectural critique of the building, nor was it a review of the building as a public transport facility, the important thing to remember is that the song wasn’t “The Fishergate Centre” song (no offense intended), “The Preston Docks Song”, “The Liverpool One Song” or anything else – it was our bus station that interested the production team enough to warrant a visit.

The building has also been featured in pieces (many this year) by The Guardian, The Guardian again, and again, The Independent, Private Eye, specialist architecture magazine Building Design, and again in Building Design. And this is just a selection.

In addition to this, as mentioned in Part 1 of this article, is the fact that Preston Bus Station is currently topping a contest run by Building Design Partnership to find their best/favourite building from their portfolio as a celebration of their 50th anniversary. The bus station is currently leading by a healthy margin, but more interesting is the fact that the entry has significantly more comments than any other project. The bus station is a talking point, it prompts discussion in ways that any other city would want to promote. It is iconic, and this icon belongs to Preston. Last week, as part of the Royal Institute of British Architects North West Architecture Festival 2011, school children were taken on a tour that included Preston Bus Station and this is just one of many academic groups and ‘architecture tourists‘ to make such a journey.

There is no doubt that the Tithebarn scheme will be a fantastic investment in Preston and it will undoubtedly revitalise a corner of the city centre that has fallen behind however whilst it will be in Preston, will it be a part ofPreston? Urban regeneration/investment/renewal schemes of this sort were happening all over the country prior to the economic collapse – Bury’s The Rock and Liverpool One are just two local examples. What they have produced are indeed better than what preceded them, but they have an appearance that implies a drag and drop approach with identikit and generic buildings that could fit in to just about any such scheme.

Liverpool is a city large enough to manage to balance Liverpool One’s generic look against a backdrop of other striking and original buildings – Liverpool Museum, The Albert Dock, The Liver Buildings, The Radio City Tower etc. Preston does not have this luxury – in order to maintain a sense of ‘Preston’ in the development then the bus station offers the ambitious urban planner a golden opportunity to include something from the past within the regeneration scheme.

If Preston Bus Station, with its history, its ability to attract nationwide commentary and its potential are swept aside then Preston will be left with a new homogenous retail space that could have been dropped anywhere in the country. Preston deserves far better than such a lazy approach.

To vote in BDP’s contest to find their favourite building please visit their site and remember that your vote will carry more weight if you chose to register on their site.

You can learn more about Preston Bus Station by visiting the website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.

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