Beautiful and Brutal – 50 years in the life of Preston Bus Station

2019 marked the 50th year of Preston Bus Station, an internationally significant piece of architecture built for everyday use by the people of Preston. Charles Quick, of In Certain Places collaborated with the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library to re-present and reveal Preston Bus Station through archives, collections, artists’ public art commissions and interventions. The exhibition permeated spaces throughout the Harris from 21st September – 24th November 2019 

Built in 1969 by British Design Partnership (BDP), Preston Bus Station was the largest in Europe – a space-age structure created the same year the moon landing took place. Its strong architectural presence has inspired a wealth of artists, filmmakers and photographers, including Shezad Dawood and Nathaniel Mellors. 

Beautiful and Brutal – 50 years in the life of Preston Bus Station featureed existing work alongside new commissions by contemporary artists LOW PROFILE , Keith Harrison and Anna Raczynski, revealing aspects of the architecture both on site at the bus station and in the Harris Museum. LOW PROFILE  explored the role of people in the building’s identity through a large-scale artwork. Keith Harrison, known for his sculptural and audio work, created the performative work Conductor and artist/filmmaker Anna Raczynski a series of video portraits of a diverse group of users.

Preston Bus Station was saved from demolition after a 13 year campaign initiated by the people of Preston resulting in Grade II listing. It has been revitalised through an extensive restoration programme by Lancashire County Council and John Puttick architects. Its beautiful and brutal form has regained its former glory – loved by many and loathed by some. Whatever your opinion it is one of Preston’s most distinctive pieces of architecture and is a place where the daily transactions of the city take place. 

A complementary events programme at Preston Bus Station and the Harris also included films, talks, tours and workshops to contextualise the social architecture of the building and its role in the city.  

Archive photographs of Preston Bus Station courtesy of BDP

Artist: LOW PROFILE, Keith Harrison, Anna Raczynski
Location: Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library, Preston Bus Station
Year: 2019
Partners: Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library, Preston Bus Station, Lancashire County Council, University of Central Lancashire, Building Design Partnership, Ove Arup, Laing Construction, Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust, Preston Bus, Stage Coach  
Funders: Arts Council England

Beautiful and Brutal – The Conference

An interdisciplinary conference that examined the impact of this internationally significant piece of architecture built for everyday use by the people of Preston, and discussed its role within the wider context of urban design and the development of cities in the 21st Century.

The conference programme included:

Introduction by Chris Harding, Chair, BDP

The Listing Story - Dr Christina Malathouni, University of Liverpool
Why The Curves? - Professor Adrian Friend, University of Central Lancashire
The Restoration of a Brutalist Icon - John Puttick, architect, John Puttick Associates
Panel discussion one - hosted by Lee Ivett, Grenfell-Baines School of Architecture, University of Central Lancashire

• The Campaign To Save A Bus Station - Sally Stone, Reader, Manchester School of Architecture
• Brutalist Architecture and the Arts -  Professor Charles Quick, In Certain Places
• Building Connections - James Arnold History Curator, Harris Museum and Art Gallery
Panel discussion two - hosted by Ann Vanner, President, North Lancashire Society of Architects

Saturday 9th November 10.00 – 16.00
Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library

Artist Talks – 9th October 2019
The Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library

In Certain Places

VB005A, Victoria Building
University of Central Lancashire
Preston, PR1 2HE