Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Preston bus station - a work of genius?

Pic from BDP
I've never been convinced by the argument that Preston bus station represents a work of architectural marvel. For something so substantial and so ambitious to work it has to at least connect with the users of that space. It was misunderstood and misused at street level. It became neglected by an ignorant authority. The marvel of it from the outside is of the curves of the car park above. It is a structure that divides opinion, for sure.

An exhibition at the CUBE gallery celebrates some of the amazing work of architectural firm BDP, for it was they, from socialist/modernist roots to a globalised future. It is a quite marvellous presentation; really educative and quite seductive. But don't take my word for it, read Neil Tague's blog on it here.,

Now here's a thing. Back in my teenage 1980s a friend of mine, Russell Colman used to invite a few of us to stay at his house. It was always good fun and we had some laughs, as teenage lads would. His stepfather would put Radio 4 on in the morning and the well appointed cottage was full of good books and copies of this hitherto undiscovered magazine called Private Eye. I would go so far as to say that Eye changed my life - it gave me a cheeky urge for satire, inspired me to do my own fanzine, to pursue journalism and not to take politics and the powerful too seriously. I never got round to expressing anything resembling respect or gratitude towards the master of the house, teenagers tend not to.

The man was Keith Ingham, architect of Preston bus station, who I learned, died in 1995. There's a professional obituary of him here.  I never had the inclination or the manners to say this at the time, but sorry for abusing your patience, Mr Ingham, and thanks for introducing me to the Eye.

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