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Preston Bus Station refurbishment

by John Puttick Associates and Cassidy+Ashton

Client Lancashire County Council

Awards RIBA North West Award 2019, RIBA North West Conservation Award 2019, RIBA North West Client of the Year 2019 and RIBA National Award 2019

© Gareth Gardner

An apparently subtle restoration belies a significant organisational shift at this listed and iconic Preston Bus Station.

Shifting all bus stands to one side instead of both, relocating the coach station, providing an information hub and rationalising retail units has reinstated a legibility and reinforced the purpose of the building. These considered interventions have improved the flow of buses and allowed for a large area of public realm to be formed without diminishing capacity or functionality.

Significant but barely visible interventions include the complete replacement of the failing aluminium curtain wall system to increase its strength and resistance to wind load with a marginal increase in depth. The original timber sliding doors to the apron, which were rotten and too heavy to close and open have been changed to aluminium in the exact pattern and scale of the originals. This allows the bus station a functionality intended at the original build that could not be delivered at the time.

The need for the relatively new skill set required for refurbishment of listed mid 20th century buildings is on the increase as elements of such buildings fail, and their functionality wanes. This restoration has identified ways in which to resolve failures of fabric, and design details such as the heavy sliding wood framed doors and identified new technical responses that retain the architectural aesthetics and intent of the original. The design team at Preston have delivered an outstanding, exemplary conservation project, one of minimal intervention, care, attention to detail and most importantly a viable building with a long future of use.

In a project that reveals itself the more you look, the interior has been decluttered, and the original intent of the building sightlines and scale have been reasserted. Signage fits to the tiled wall grid perfectly, the concrete that is cleaned just enough, the new concrete bike stands and the re-used iroko barriers that are now seating and frames to the information kiosks. Each of these small details are what makes this project sing as a conservation work.

The main sustainability dimension of Preston Bus Station is the retention of the building itself, as the embodied energy of this very large, iconic concrete building has not been squandered. Its ongoing role as the major public transport hub of the city is enhanced by attention to simple functional details in this unheated building such as the improvement to auto-operation of all access doors to increase passenger comfort and accessibility. Retying the building to the town centre via the new ground level piazza is also very important in removing barriers to access. The client and design team has addressed the integrity and durability of the structure which has been carefully restored. All these factors will ensure the longer-term sustainability of the building in both functional, technical and economic terms.

With a stand out client team and clear engagement with conservation officers and the twentieth century society, the jury believe the project is an exemplary restoration and reworking of a mid-century building.

Location: Preston

Contractor: Conlon Construction

Planning Consultant: Cassidy+Ashton

Structural Engineers: engineersHRW

Environmental / M&E Engineers: Skelly & Couch

Quantity Surveyor / Cost Consultant: Lancashire County Council

Acoustic Engineers: Charcoalblue

Access Consultant: BuroHappold

Landscape Architects: Planit-IE

Fire Engineering: BuroHappold

Internal area: 31,250 m²

© Gareth Gardner
© Gareth Gardner
© Gareth Gardner
© John Puttick Associates
© John Puttick Associates
© John Puttick Associates
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