Inspired by the powerful presence of the Preston Bus Station, the design seeks to enhance the existing values and to stimulate the emergence of new qualities giving rise to a fresh unified, flexible, and vibrant space in the city. The project unfolds as a holistic approach to ensure a rather strategic response to the need of synergy and clear identity. The proposal is furthermore driven by the inherent multifaceted duality of the site and seeks diverse ways of its evolving expression on different levels: urban, social, and physical.
Space & Form
The new appearance of the site is conceived as a new topography which: preserves the readability of the ‘solid – void’ in the urban fabric; detects conditions, in which the opposing entities can work together; generates space within space.
The former hard apron for bus manoeuvring responds to its new users – the people. It transforms to a single soft surface – a Public Realm Space that offers high adaptability and free mobility. This undulating surface retains the void space around the Bus Station volume uninterrupted and thus preserves the legibility of its design unity.
Two mounds cover the Youth Zone Plus. The northern one penetrates the station giving the impression that it supports the mass layers of the car park decks, thus keeping the sense of endless horizontality and enhancing the duality ‘rectilinear – curved’. At the same time, the new building emerges as a playful and recognisable feature of the site, visible from a distance, yet showing respect to its surroundings. In addition, the active use of the underground space contributes to the urban and environmental sustainability.
Vitality & Fusion
At this new coherent urban space the scheduled and planned rhythm of the bus services meets the unpredictability of everyday life and the spontaneity of the young people. The public areas are intentionally left spatially unlimited and programmatically blended to allow maximum flexibility and diverse activities.
The continuous curved Public Realm Space introduces the human scale; it flows in and out for better connectivity; it runs over and under the buildings creating unexpected views and perspectives; it challenges people to move, use, and explore. Trees now and then align in rows recalling the layout of the former bus bays; they enter the buildings blurring the boundaries between in and out.
The Youth Zone Plus gives a strong impulse to the dynamics of the site. The courtyards pierced in the surface actively connect it with the public space while providing the required safety.
Materiality & Lightness
Re-reading the duality, the materials speak the same language: solid for the curved surfaces, and transparent for the vertical planar ones. A strictly rectangular grid (following the station’s structural grid) laid over the undulating surface makes the space more readable and perceptible. The rich glazing of the openings brings more light in and allows for unusual views from the exterior disclosing the buildings towards the city.