Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Preston Bus Station

Built in 1968 and 1969 with a capacity for 80 double-decker buses and designed by Keith Ingham (designer) and Charles Wilson of Building Design Partnership with E H Stazicker, some claim that it is the second largest bus station in Western Europe.  Pedestrian access to the Bus Station is through any of three subways while the design also incorporates a multi-storey car park of five floors with space for 1100 cars.

The building's engineers, Ove Arup and Partners, designed the distinctive curve of the car park balconies "after acceptable finishes to a vertical wall proved too expensive, contributing to the organic, sculptural nature of the building. The edges are functional, too, in that they protect car bumpers from crashing against a vertical wall. The cover balustrade protects passengers from the weather by allowing buses to penetrate beneath the lower parking floor."

The building is threatened with demolition as part of the City Council's Tithebarn redevelopment project. In 2000, opposition to the demolition led to a failed application for listed building status by English Heritage. Preston Borough Council (as it then was) opposed the application.

On October 11, 2005, Preston City Council and developer Grosvenor Holdings signed an agreement to go ahead with the Tithebarn redevelopment project, which calls for the demolition of the current bus station.  A survey conducted by the Lancashire Evening Post in May 2010 found that Preston Bus Station was Preston peoples' favourite building.

Five years later, for whatever reason, the building is still standing.  One of the council's criticism's of the structure was that is suffered from poor pedestrian linkages.  I found this to be accurate, as while taking the photos, I was confronted by a security officer who told me that if I didn't stay off the apron, that she would have to ask me to leave because "I would get run over by a bus".  So, I suspect that there have been incidents where pedestrians have come in contact with bus traffic at some point in the past. (which may explain the barriers below).  The structure is in fact huge and I can only imagine that locating one's vehicle in the car park may take some doing.
The interesting thing about practical structures like this from my point of view is how many people just do not appreciate the design elements as they go about their daily routines.  I suppose that to appreciate functional architecture it takes a kind of disseverment from the practical aspects of going from point A to point B which for the commuter or business traveller can be quite difficult.  Everywhere around us, there is creativity and "beauty" of a sort, that although it may not be pretty is still worth a second glance.

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