Following news last week that four post-war buildings had been listed in the UK, the campaign to Save Preston Bus Station reached a victory today when it was announced that Ed Vaizey (Architecture and Heritage Minister) has listed the Brutalist icon, removing the threat of demolition. The campaign, which has garnered words of support from the likes of Richard Rogers and Rem Koolhaas, has been been underpinned by support from Angela Brady PRIBA, former President of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Designed by Building Design Partnership (BDP) in 1969, Preston City Council "approved the move to tear down the bus shelter in principle" in December 2012. Alongside this, they "also asked for a second opinion on the £23 million cost of refurbishing it". This led to the Gate 81 Project, supported by Manchester School of Architecture, which was designed to "imagine how Preston Bus Station could be adapted for the future using open, shared resources". After the latest submission to English Heritage, and after three previous failed attempts, the building has been listed at Grade II.
Ed Vaizey commented, saying that the building "represents an important stage in the evolution of integrated design in England with architecture, interior design, engineering, quantity surveying, landscaping, graphic and typographic design working to a common goal". Eddy Rhead, from the Manchester Modernist Society, said that "I’d almost given up hope in the face of such negativity and maneuvering from Preston City Council and had just presumed it was doomed. It is always darkest before the dawn and kudos must go to Ed Vaizey for making such an enlightened decision".
Councillor Peter Rankin, leader of Preston City Council, has said that "it’s not the outcome we were hoping for. We’ve always said the bus station is too big, provides relatively poor facilities for bus passengers and costs Preston taxpayers over £300,000 a year to maintain". According to Rankin, they will now "take some time to consider the listing decision and the options for moving forward".
Richard Rogers wrote in a letter to Preston City Council (May 2013) that the bus station "is truly a major modern building and an outstanding piece of 20th century architecture. Preston bus station is not only admired internationally, but it also continues to be fully functioning". In response to today's news Sally Stone, one of the founding activists from the Gate 81 project, stated that the building is a "landmark" and "a truly remarkable structure" with "great elegance". "The incredibly long curved concrete parapets that stretch for the full 190 metres of the building hover bravely over the city, and seem to be at odds with the Brutalist epithet that the building has been labelled with".
Following today's announcement the bus station appears to be a big step closer to being conserved as one of the north of England's architectural icons. How it will potentially be restored, renovated or adapted opens up a series of exciting possibilities. For Sally Stone, "we must now ensure is that any redevelopment work is conducted in a sympathetic and creative manner".
You can find out more about Gate 81 here.