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Preston's Brutalist bus station is 'treasure', says Koolhaas

Rem Koolhaas has hailed Preston’s under-threat Brutalist bus station as an ‘emblem of a period when architecture was interested in doing good things’

The OMA founder was asked about BDP’s 1969 icon, which is to be flattened to make way for the £700 million Tithebarn city centre retail scheme also designed by BDP, on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning (13 October).

Koolhaas responded by describing Modernist and Brutalist buildings as ‘treasures’ which must be kept despite a ‘global consensus that [these structures] should be wiped from the face of the earth’.

He said: ‘In retrospect, the Brutalist tradition of England is one of its most creative and imaginative architectures. It is only in the last five years that we, ourselves, are becoming interested in the issues of preservation.

‘I’ve personally really campaigned for preserving Modernist architecture…there is a global consensus that any architecture from the late 1960s, 70s and 80s should disappear from the face of the earth, because it is so harsh and presumably because it is so socialistic.’

He concluded: ‘I think we should keep [these buildings] and treasure them and in the end see them as emblems of a period when architecture was interested in doing good things.’

Eddy Rhead, of the Manchester Modernist Society, who has campaigned for the preservation of the bus station, added: ‘There seems to be a sort of ‘critical mass’ forming. But it is actually quite depressing to now see so much goodwill for a building at the point it looks like we are going to lose it. 

‘Could this be another Euston Arch?’

Koolhaas was speaking as a major exhibition opens at the Barbican Art Gallery showcasing the work of OMA and as his practice’s Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre in Glasgow also completes. Listen to the full interview here.

See the Preston bus station in the AJBL.


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