Preston Bus Station - Youth Centre Plus

In early 2015 we took part in the international RIBA Preston Bus Station competition. The brief required the creation of a 3000sqm Youth Centre building that would sit alongside and partially occupy the iconic bus station. The vast western bus apron and western concourse were also part of the brief where a proposal for a new public space and ideas for re-use were sought.

Site plan

We began by analysing and understanding the macro scale, the site and city, and combining this with an interrogation of the detailed brief. We see our holistic proposal as representing a microcosm of the best of Preston, a vibrant city and market town, and creating a new city quarter that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Our Youth Centre design proposed an open and engaging building with a strong presence. The sports hall, climbing wall and studios are given prominence, acting as showcases to the city. The external sports pitch was proposed at roof level to act as a beacon for the Youth Centre and contribute to the dynamic urban presence of the building.

Market Street visualisation
Section diagram

Our proposals for the bus apron created two main public spaces, a civic square and ‘green heart’, each defined by key urban desire lines. The civic square was seen as the first step in a sequence of connected urban experiences through the city and an appropriate welcome and farewell space for the bus and coach station users. The ‘green heart’ brought a diversity to the large open space and ‘softened’ the urban environment of this part of Preston.

Within the retained concourse we envisaged a light touch being applied to the listed building, with its simplicity and robustness kept to the fore. We envisaged a semi-enclosed colonnade, sheltered by the iconic curved overhang, with cafes and shops flourishing within. An event space, connected to local cultural and education institutions, was proposed to host art or performance installations, ‘pop up’ cafes or shops. The new activities would have brought about delight and surprise, reinvigorating the building without changing its fabric and essence.

Exploded axonometric