Revisiting Utopia: Modernist Architecture and the Post-Regenerate City. Panel debate

Revisiting Utopia: Modernist Architecture and the Post-Regenerate City was a one-day symposium, which brought together architects, artists, urban planners and people with an interest in the future of cities, to examine the role of architecture in an age of austerity. Employing Preston’s iconic bus station as a case study, the event explored the modernist principles that informed the construction of the building during the late 1960s and discussed the architectural impact of recent urban regeneration schemes, such as the planned re-development of Preston city centre that threatened to demolish the bus station. Examining issues of environmental sustainability and the significance of local knowledge, the event asked to what extent the utopian ideals of Modernism, and the buildings they inspired, might still be relevant within today’s urban landscape.

This is a panel debate, which was chaired by Lancashire County Councillor Kevin Ellard as part of the event. The panellists are Preston City Councillor Tom Burns, Christina Malathouni – Senior Conservation Adviser at the Twentieth Century Society, architect Irena Bauman and architecture writer Owen Hatherley.

Preston Bus Station was designed by Keith Ingham of Building Design Partnership, and is an example of Brutalist architecture. Completed in 1969, it has 80 bus bays and is the largest bus station in the UK. The building includes a multi-storey carpark on the top, and it is linked to other parts of the city centre via subways and an elevated walkway. The building, which continues to make a profit, has been threatened with demolition for over ten years, as part of city centre redevelopment plans.