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This book was produced by Harry Brown, Lauren Green and Rebecca Prince as part of Continuity in Architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture.


















INTRODUCTION preston bus station

On 7 December 2012, Preston City Council voted ‘in principle’ to demolish Preston’s bus station, a building which the Twentieth Century Society (C20) described as “one of the most significant Brutalist buildings in Britain.” The structure, which was built in 1969, was engineered by Ove Arup & Partners and was designed by Building Design Partnership (BDP) who rated the building no. 2 in their top projects list. The length of the building is 171 metres long, is made up of 5 floors and incorporates a multi-storey car park with space for 1,100 cars. The ground floor of the building makes up the bus station and consists of 80 departure gates (40 on either side, originally intended to serve two main bus operators), bus company offices, lofty waiting rooms, shops and a cafe. As well as its sheer length and size, there is one other design feature which gives the building its distinct and


unique appearance; the gently curving, projecting shell concrete balustrades which form the edges to the four upper car park levels of the building, made from 2,800 precast units. As well as giving the building its uniqueness, these curved elements also provide shelter to those embarking and disembarking the buses below on the ground floor. The building was built to last, with everything within the design thought down to the very last detail, including the building’s internal flooring, woodwork and tiling as well as the “airport-style signage” designed by the in-house BDP graphics team. According to BDP; “at the time the building set a standard for other cities and other offices of BDP; while today it stands as a memory to a particular kind of progressive design ambition: that nothing was too good for the common people.”

Source: The Architectural Design, Jan. 1967, p.20-21.

Source: The Architects’ Journal Information Library 6 May 1970, p.1129-1146.


INTRODUCTION preston bus station

Source: The Architectural Review, April 1970, p.31-34.



THREATENED DEMOLITION the current situation

As it stands at this present moment in time, the future of this landmark building is in doubt as Preston City Council have decided “in principle” to demolish the building and replace it with a surface car park. Many people see the size of the building as too large for the number of people who use the services available, which has most likely come as a result of the privatisation of bus services along with the increase in car ownership these days. As well as this, the council have also stated that the building is too costly to keep, suggesting that it currently costs £300,000 a year to run. According to the Jacobs Report, which was commissioned by Preston City Council, it would be cheaper to demolish and replace the building rather than refurbish it. Within the report it was suggested that the cost of refurbishment would be between £17m and £23m. Whilst the assumed cost of demolition and replacement of the building is to between £12.6m and £17.1m, despite there being no developed plans as of yet for its replacement. The proposal to demolish the building has been met with strong opposition from members of the public and a campaign to save


the bus station has been set up, whereby 1,544 people have signed an HM Government e-petition in order to help stop the council from demolishing the building. The petition, which was set up by John Wilson, was originally rejected by the chief executive of Preston council, however it has since been reworded and given approval, according to BlogPreston. As well as this online petition, two attempts have been made by English Heritage to have the building listed - once in 2000 and again in 2009, both of which were unsuccessful. Despite these previous failed attempts, a third application has yet again been made and is currently under review and awaiting a final decision from culture minister Ed Vaizey. This latest attempt to have the building listed has been primarily concerned with Lend Lease’s £700m Tithebarn regeneration scheme, which involved the demolition of the bus station. The regeneration project which was given government approval and which BDP also worked on has since been abandoned as a result of retail outlet John Lewis pulling out, and who were said to be the “anchor store” in attracting other retailers to the project. Although

the plug was pulled on the project back in 2011, Preston City Council have still maintained their decision to proceed with the demolition of the bus station. On top of this, the council rejected a proposal from Simon Rigby to save the building and have since applied to protect the building from being listed for the next five years. It would seem that the council are intent on putting an end to this unique and monumental building despite public interest to save it and despite it being voted the city’s most popular building in a text poll of Evening post readers. What is more, interest from English Heritage, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, C20 and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have been shown to help save the bus station, as well as the World Monuments Fund by placing the building on its Watch List. It is safe to say the buildings future is an uncertain one, however with increasing numbers of organisations and members of the public fighting to save the building one can only hope that this important and controversial piece of architecture may remain a part of Preston’s city centre.

Source: The Financial Times, March 2013.



Preston Bus Station has 80 gates - We’d like to keep it that way. Gate81 is a collaborative project that was created by Sally Stone and Dominic Roberts of Continuity in Architecture at the Manchester School of Architecture and Ruth Heritage from the Prestonbased arts organisation They Eat Culture, as part of the citizen interaction project ‘Then The City’. The Gate81 team believe the brutalist building should be preserved and creatively adapted to successfully serve the city. The main aim was to provide an opportunity for the public to re-imagine Preston Bus Station and actively oppose its proposed demolition and future as a surface car park as voted by Preston City Council. The Arts Council, UCLAN, the MSA and local businesses showed their support for the project. A website was developed to provide free, downloadable documents to the public to begin to redesign the space, as well as a place to present the work submitted by those with an interest in the building.


An open workshop was organised on 11th May 2013 to encourage the residents of Preston to develop ideas for the future of their city and to anyone from the public with a keen interest in the future of the controversial building. The event was granted permission to be held on the ground floor of the bus station. This collective and collaborative event aimed to generate proposals for a viable and realisable future for the Preston Bus Station building and the surrounding area. During the day a series of professionals spoke about subjects closely connected with the Bus Station and there was the opportunity for attendees to get handson with redesigning the space in the open workshop throughout the day. Maps, models and drawings were provided, as well as the necessary material, to generate ideas that were then presented at the end of the day.



Preston Bus Station has 80 gates - We’d like to keep it that way. Gate81 set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account to be able to target the wider audience about the current state of the bus station and ways in which they can become involved. The social media portals were used extensively during the build up to the event to generate momentum in the public about the plight of the bus station, to provide a running commentary during the event to allow those unable to attend the event to keep up-to-date with the developments, and to keep the message out there after the event had taken place.

Gate81 asked the public to:

And to think about:

-enjoy the building

- how do you respond personally, to the building, its forms and spaces?

-imagine what could happen in and around the building, and how the building could interact with the city -think about who uses the building and why, and what they might want from the building -download the drawings and 3d model -use free software to view and manipulate the model -make development plans, design, remix, remodel, adapt -send us your proposals and responses -contact us if, as a group or individual you want to take part in the workshop -preserve the building if you can -remember the building when it is gone


-could the surrounding routes and urban spaces be changed to reconnect the building with the city? -can we ensure that there is something for everyone in the city’s spaces and developments? -what does a city centre need to ensure people engage in its social, cultural and economic life? - what functions could the building contain? - how could the image of the building be changed to give it new life and meaning


GATE81 preparation

In order to prepare the Gate81 project and ultimately the design workshop in May, we were given a number of challenging tasks to complete. The list of jobs included: - drawing up the marketing timeline to make sure the team kept to deadlines formulating the ‘sponsorship’ and ‘speaker’ packs to send out to the list of people we collectively complied in one of the Gate81 meetings - setting up an ‘Eventbrite’ to be accessed by the general public to sign up to the event and secure their free ticket - discussing and drawing up the final event programme, including the date, venue, times and what the day would involve - constant communication with local architects, artists, designers and related publishers, such as


architecture journals and local newspapers, as well as RIBA, to spread the world to a wide audience about the Gate81 project and workshop event - writing up the Press Releases for both the Monthly and Weekly publishers in order to get the information about the event out to as wide an audience as possible. - updating the Gate81 website by controlling the email account and uploading any media, sketches, proposals and other creative responses received so they can be viewed by the public - taking over the Facebook and Twitter pages and keeping them up-to-date with the latest news about the project and to advertise the final event by feeding the latest information about dates, times, speakers, etc.


GATE81 preparation



GATE81 preparation



GATE81 preparation




gate81 process 08.01.12


Dominic and Jackie on Radio Lancashire


First gate81 meeting. Website live


Arrived in Preston at office to discuss the project and draw up model/set up drawings for the website

RIBA Journal tweet about Gate81 and the website


Archdaily talk about Gate81, by Alison Furuto and tweeted about it


Meeting in Preston with Sally and Ruth


First draft of brief for crossings submitted


Given names of students who signed onto the Gate81 Event Programme



Meeting with Sally in the Shed


Downloadable drawings and model go up on the website

22.03.12 Request sent to use PBS as the site, H&S/Risk Assessment and joinery help from a local business in Preston 08.04.12


Revised brief submitted for Events Programme

Eventbrite active


Press release contacts compiled and sent to UK architectural monthlies


RIBA Journal tweet again about Gate81 and public resources


Communications with Andrew from Save Preston Bus Station about images of the event for the website and using message postcards to upload postevent to keep the memory alive


25.04.12 First Event Month session in Preston, all day; split into groups etc, visited PBS

Schedule/roles written up and sent to students for set-up and event


PBS’s future mentioned in NEC journal

02.05.12 Memorabilia bags designed and ordered for the event


ODEON Manchester screening of Events 2013 at 10:45am

11.05.12 Event

13.05.12 01.05.12

Finalised event space drawings with dimensions to send to Jackie

PCC agree to the Gate81 workshop being on the ground floor of PBS


Meeting with Sally in the Shed to discuss Event Month lesson plan, etc.Received blurb for Flyer to put into InDesign document

Feature on Preston FM



Mentioned on 20th Century Society web page

To be continued


Set-up of Gate81 event

18.05.12 Made a start on biscuit cutter designs



student involvement

This years MSA events programme focussed on the idea of ‘collaboration and the city’ and was collectively named ‘Crossings’. The programme oversaw twenty events designed by 5th year students and undertaken alongside key collaborators between Thursday 25th April and Wednesday 8th May. This presented the ideal opportunity to get more people behind the gate81 campaign but also benefited the students by giving them an opportunity to make new contacts and expand upon their CVs by showing creativity and professionalism in working with others.

The Gate81 project offered the students a range of key areas for working on the development of the one-day workshop. Within our first session we identified these areas as being: -working on designing and developing the event space -designing a photo booth which formed a part of the space -publicity of the event, which included using guerrilla marketing tactics -making a 1:500 physical model of Preston Bus Station and its surrounding context -making a 1:200 physical model of Preston Bus Station -designing and producing memorabilia for people to purchase at the workshop -helping an artist with an installation being produced for the event



EVENT SPACE PLANNING structure + sound booth

After receiving planning permission for the event to be held in the bus station, a temporary structure was designed to section off the area. The structure needed to maximise the available space and provide a clear distinction between the event space and the rest of the station, which would still be in use on the day. The final design [1] composed of a scaffolding frame clad in canvas, which could then be branded with the Gate 81 logo. Students were also responsible for the design and curation of the space, sourcing the materials, providing the required drawings and dimensions for the suppliers and the final set up of the structure. Another element that had to be designed was a sound booth [2] to film feedback on the day, which a few students were responsible for. The requirements for the design included space for


the necessary tech, seating and privacy to be adaptable for future events and off a manageable size to fit within the rest of the event space. The necessary drawings were provided and the final design was built by a local joinery company.




EVENT SPACE SET-UP the day before


0800 -1400

scaffolders erect frame for main entrance towers

0900 -1100

joiners assemble and erect sound booth

0900 -1200

mounting Jamie Hawkesworth photography onto the bus station tiles

0930 -1200

students blackout shop unit being used by artist Chris Jones and surrounding glazed area of event space

1000 -1200

measuring + cutting canvas to clad the scaffolding

1200 -1300

spray painting the canvas with the gate81 logo

1200 -1600

clad the scaffolding in prepared canvas

1300 -1330

spray painting sound booth with gate81 logo

1600 -1700

arranging furniture for workshop


cover over doors


EVENT SPACE SET-UP the day before



EVENT SPACE SET-UP the day before



EVENT SPACE SET-UP the day before




spreading the word

As well as carrying out the official publicity for Gate 81, which involved contacting numerous architect practices in the North-West, there was also a chance for the students to develop some guerrilla marketing tactics in order to promote the workshop. This resulted in two projects; the first was the development of the postcards project which involved asking the people of Preston to write their thoughts or memories of Preston bus station on one of our specially designed cards. The second was the design and making of a series of cardboard cut-outs, which were left around Preston bus station on the day in order to attract people to the workshop.



MODELLING THE BUS STATION creating a tool for the workshop

A number of students were in charge of planning and modelling a 1:200 model of Preston Bus Station and a 1:500 model of the wider area. Once the desired area had been agreed, the map was laser cut onto timber boards to form the base of the model and blue foam used to cut out the massing models of the surrounding buildings. The 1:200 model was more detailed and a large majority of it was also cut out on the laser cutter for more precision, and then each beam assembled onto the different levels. The models were helpful during the event for members of the public to get a better idea of the scale of the building in the surrounding context and to be able to imagine how the wider area can be reimagined.



MEMORABILIA a lasting memory

Despite the Gate 81 project building up to a one day event, it was important for the team that the message and idea of saving the bus station was kept alive after the workshop had taken place. In order to do this, we decided to design and create a series of canvas bags available to buy at the workshop so that people could take them away with them with the hope that the message may be passed on. As well as canvas bags, t-shirts with various images of the bus station printed on them at the workshop were also available.




re-imagining preston bus station

On Saturday 11th May 2013 Gate 81 ran a one-day, allday free workshop at the bus station to develop ideas for the future of the station and its surroundings. The workshop was an open event and encouraged members of the public, architects, designers, artists and developers to come along and have their say. The main aim of the event was to bring a variety of people together to generate proposals for a viable and realisable future for this landmark building. The event began with registration and breakfast at 8:30 in the morning and kicked off with a brief introduction and the first of two workshop sessions, the aim of which were to reimagine how the bus station may be preserved and creatively adapted to serve the city and its residents. Following this the first two guest speakers presented their talks. The first was Professor Tom Jefferies,


head of Manchester School of Architecture who discussed other various examples of Brutalist architecture and also examples of how buildings can be re-furbished, adapted and given an alternative function. Examples here included Bankside Power Station or rather the Tate Modern as it is better known as these days in London as well as the Albert Dock project in Liverpool.

08.30 - 10.30



re-imagining preston bus station

The second speaker of the day was Stella Hall, who was the 2012 Director of Preston Guild’s festival which takes place every twenty years. Stella gave a very passionate speech about the city of Preston and its cultural ambition and spoke of the great success of last year’s festival stating that she couldn’t wait another twenty years for the next one to take place. She also emphasised the significance of the bus station in Preston and talked about how the station formed an important part of the BBC’s live coverage of the ‘Preston Passion’ last year.


10.30 - 11.00



re-imagining preston bus station

After lunch the afternoon began with a guided tour around Preston by Dominic Roberts of Francis Roberts Architects in Preston who helped set up the Gate 81 project. He walked somewhere around 30 people through the streets of Preston giving an insight into some of Preston’s important landmark buildings which included; the site of the original town hall on the Flag Market, the former Public Hall on Lune Street, the site of St. Mary’s Church on Friargate, the Magistrates Court on Ringway and the indoor market which is set to be demolished in the near future.


Courtesy of Dominic Roberts.

13.30 - 14.30




re-imagining preston bus station

Once Dominic had returned with his participants of the tour, another series of small talks were presented. To begin with Christina Malathouni, a lecturer at University of Liverpool , formerly of the Twentieth Century Society, gave an enlightening talk about the two failed listed building attempts on the bus station and also the third attempt which is currently being reviewed as previously mentioned. It was particularly interesting to learn that even a listed building can still be demolished.


15.00 - 15.30



re-imagining preston bus station

After Christina, two local artists; Chris Jones and Jamie Hawkesworth gave brief talks of their work which they had produced and exhibited around the bus station on the day. First up was Chris who was born in Preston in 1975 and who received his Masters in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London in 2002. He talked of his scaled down version of the bus station which explored the ramps leading to the car park of the station in a playful manner and which was on display in a vacant shop unit within the station. Afterwards Jamie, a documentary photographer based in London who studied photography at the University of Central Lancashire, spoke about his portrait photographs of people at the bus station, some of which had been printed to an impressive size and mounted to various walls around the station for all to see.


15.30 - 16.00



re-imagining preston bus station

Following the second round of speakers, there was a chance for people to return to the workshop to continue generating ideas for how the bus station could be creatively adapted and re-used after which people were able to pin up their work and talk about the ideas they had come up with. A variety of people had engaged with this part of the event and a series of small presentations were given by members of the public, architects, architect students and lecturers who had all got involved with re-imaging a positive future for the building. At the end of these presentations we concluded that there were two key themes which needed addressing. The first was that the bus station needed reconnecting to the city at an urban scale and the second was that the building needed more occupation, more programmes and generally more things going on inside of it.


16.00 - 16.30



re-imagining preston bus station




re-imagining preston bus station

To round off the day there were two more very interesting presentations. The first was by multimedia artist Nayan Kulkarni whose work; “engages with ideas of site specificity, time, technology and perception,� and who works using a variety of media including; light, video, installation, sculpture and photography. Throughout his presentation he showed various examples of his own work and how with the use of light and installations in particular buildings can be visually transformed. Following Nayan, the final speaker of the day to finish things off was Kevin Rhowbotham who is the head of architecture at UCLan. He gave an interesting talk on the future of contemporary cities and the potential demise of commercial business districts with a need to refocus city centres from commercial activity to community needs.


16.30 - 17.30



re-imagining preston bus station

After the final speaker and any comments from the crowd had been raised and heard, the day came to a close and the big clear up began in order to leave the northern end of the bus station in the same way in which we found it the day before. It is fair to say the event was a huge success and it was great to see so many members of the local community coming together to have their say about the future of the bus station. Even if people did not stay for long, it was clear that the event had both attracted and intrigued numerous people. Despite the Gate 81 project leading up to a oneday event, it is important that the campaign keeps its momentum and we can only hope that it has left its mark and got the people of Preston thinking about both the future of this important building and their city.


To be continued .....






Manchester School of Architecture

Reuben Roberts

Continuity in Architecture

Ivan Roberts

They Eat Culture

George Watson

Francis Roberts Architects

Harry Miller


Amelia Denty

Chris Mason

Sarah Walcott


David Millington

Aizat Saprudin

Sally Stone

Professor Tom Jefferies

Amelia Hunt

Dominic Roberts

Stella Hall

Glory Alozie

Ruth Heritage

Christina Malathouni

Simina Ionescu

Jackie Jones

Chris Jones

Phillipa Seagrave

Lauren Green

Jamie Hawkesworth

Rachel Spink

Harry Brown

Nayan Kulkarni

Kotryna Dapsyte

Rebecca Prince

Kevin Rhowbotham

Ben Hodder

Arts Council Manchester School of Architecture MIRIAD Francis Roberts Architects They Eat Culture

Karina Ismat Karan Gandhi Oliver Thomas


BIBLIOGRAPHY BBC News Lancashire, (2011) Preston Tithebarn scheme abandoned after John Lewis withdraws. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 May 2013]. Blackburn, B. (2013). Open meeting in Preston Bus Station to re-imagine its future. BlogPreston. [online] 12/05 Available from: [Accessed 20 May 2013]. Furuto , A. (2013) Gate 81 Project: Preston Bus Station” 12 Feb 2013. ArchDaily. Available at: http://www.archdaily. com/329999 [Accessed 21 May 2013]. Hatherley, O. (2012). What is really happening at Preston? Sit down man, you’re a bloody tragedy. [online]19 /12 Available from: [Accessed 20 May 2013]. Hneate. (2013). Conserving the Twentieth Century - Reimagine Preston Bus Station Workshop with Gate 81 11th May. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2013]. Pearman, H. (2011) 61/11 Continuous Collective BDP. England: BDP. Pearman H. (2013). All eyes on Preston. RIBA Journal. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 May 2013]. Preston Bus Station, (2013). Preston Bus Station - Quick Facts. [online] Available at: thefacts.html [Accessed 19 May 2013]. The Continental, (20090. The Continental. [online] [Accessed 18 May 2013]. The Two Hats. (2013) Gate 81 - Community invited to ‘Re-imagine’ Preston Bus Station. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2013]. The Two Hats. (2013) Letter to LCC about The Bus Station. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 May 2013]. Thompson, M. (2013) Which buildings deserve protection? New Civil Engineer, 9th May, p.10-11. Twentieth Century Society. (2013) Casework - Preston Bus Station. [online] Available at: casework/preston-bus-station-2/ [Accessed 19 May 2013]. Waite, R. (2011) BDP’s £700m Tithebarn scheme canned as John Lewis pulls out. [online] Available at: http://www. [Accessed 19 May 2013].


Gate81 Preston Bus Station Charette  

A book made by students part of Continuity in Architecture design unit at the Manchester School of Architecture for the Gate81 workshop orga...

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