Architecture can facilitate the exploration of identity through the examination of the specificity of the context in which it is embedded. The constructed environment is often charged with narrative content, certain elements come to the fore, while others are more modest, more unassuming, but no less important or carefully considered. These mechanisms tell stories, they engage the imagination, they enable, through the construction of space, time and sequence, the development of new forms and places.



Continuity in Architecture will examine two sites; each has an entangled relationship with the fluctuating environment on which it is situated. Grange-over-Sands sits upon the inconsistency of the River Kent at the northern edge of the vast and treacherous mudflats of Morecambe Bay, while Venice was formed upon the mosquito ridden muddy promontories which appeared and disappeared within the watery safety of the silent Lagoon.

Year 6: Projects in Venice

The sixth year projects this year will be based around sites within the Arsenale area of the city. The area provides a rich context for the exploration of an urbanism born of crisis, an experimental architecture responsive to challenging environments, a dense fabric of building and memory. As part of the ERASMUS funded project entitled HAULuP, CiA will be exploring historical sites in the Venice. This will provide the basis for much greater exploration and the definition of the final year project. Current sixth year students are in Venice attending a workshop concerned with the interpretation and protection of the Arsenale area. A choice of these sites, and others in Venice, will form the basis of their final project. Students wishing to join CiA in sixth year will have the same choice of sites and the opportunity to visit Venice.


insula /in·su·la/ (in´sdbobr-lah) pl. in´sulae [L.] 1. an islandlike structure

Insulation (cf latin) is the purposeful enclosure, conditioning and modification of a structure to allow habitation. We will explore core architectural concepts with technical roots – protection, layering, shelter, threshold – and by solving problems similar to those of past generations we will further link building propositions to history and context.

Reading List: Tafuri, M. Venice and the Renaissance. MIT Press 1995. Mancuso, F. Bruttomesso, R. Veneto Italian Life Style Scenario. Process Architecture 109 1993. Goy, R. Venice. The City and its Architecture. Phaidon 1997. Morris, J. Venice. Faber and Faber 1983. Huber A. The Italian Museum. Edizioni Lybra Immagine. 1997. Janson, A. Bürklin, T. Auftritte Scenes. Interaction with Architectural Space: the Campi of Venice. Birkhåuser 2002. Frascari, M. The Tell-the –Tale Detail. VIA 7: The Art of Architecture 1984. Los, S. Carlo Scarpa, an Architectural Guide. Arsenale Editrice. 1995

Year 5: Projects in Grange-over-Sands and Venice

It is proposed that fifth year students use the small town of Grange-over-Sands as the starting point for a series of projects, and, through the development of ideas about the relationship of public and private, the city and the interior, propose buildings for home and for social life on chosen sites in the town.

Project 1 Finding the Place: A Lexicon of Grange

Project 2 Social Performance: we will collaborate with the planning, design and then partake in a procession

Project 3 Being There: Travel to Venice. Engage in empirical research. Examine, analyse and record key elements of the city

Project 4 Buildings for Home and for Social Life in Grange

How can the relationship between the citizen and tourist be managed within the form of the town? What models and precedents exist for the architectural expression of the relationship between the private and public life of the citizen? How do we build in an environment of density, inundation and collapse?

Essays: Diverse architectural approaches to the creation transformation of space

Reading List: Site Projects by David Leatherbarrow. Critical Regionalism by Kenneth Frampton. Contextualism: Urban Ideals and Transformations by Thomas Schumacher. The Architectural Uncanny by Anthony Vidler. Let the Trumpets Roar! – The Roman Triumph by Richard Brilliant. The Rights of Retreat and Rites of Exclusion: Notes Towards the Definition of Wall by Robin Evans.

“Make way!” cried Krespel; and then running to one end of the garden, he strode slowly towards the square of brick-work. When he came close to the wall he shook his head in a dissatisfied manner, ran to the other end of the garden, again strode slowly towards the brick-work square, and proceeded to act as before. These tactics he pursued several times, until at length, running his sharp nose hard against the wall, he cried, “Come here, come here, men! break me a door in here! Here’s where I want a door made!”

The Cremona Violin. E. T. A. Hoffmann

Preston Interrotta

“Preston has a picturesqueness of outline and a suggestion of spaciousness from a distance which distinguish it from most Lancashire cotton towns.”1

The Twenty-First Century city is a combination of two different ideas; the traditional city of streets and squares, and the modern city of isolated elements surrounded by parkland. The traditional city is really composed of spaces, which are lined with buildings. So, for example, the primary street within an urban environment is a long thin space through which people travel, which is bounded by structures that face onto this space. The shapes of the buildings are somewhat deformed to accommodate the pure nature of the street, and thus it is the space which is the predominate element of the composition. The city-in-the-park is the opposite; isolated buildings set with open land, thus emphasising the building rather than the space, which just surrounds the structures in an ill-defined manner.

Preston, a small provincial city in the north west of England is no exception; it has evolved into this awkward mixture of the traditional and the modern. Neither situation really responds or compliments the other, and so the city has grown into a collection of individual structures and spaces.

Preston is well positioned on a ridge above the flood-planes of the River Ribble. This line or edge, known as Fishergate, is part of pre-Roman route which crossed the country, and intersects at the Flag Market square, with a north-south track, Friargate, which was formed by its connection with the lowest crossing point of the Ribble. The Minster marks the eastern end of the city centre, while the train station is positioned at the western point and Fishergate is stretched between them. Close to the Minster are the open Flag Market, the Harris Art Gallery, the Victorian cast-iron covered markets and the Town Hall. These civic elements are testament to the wealth of the city.

In some respects it is a typical industrial city, the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries brought massive expansion, and by 1867 it possessed seventy factories. This rapid development destroyed many of the mediaeval structures, but the pattern of the city centre, to the most part, was retained. Indeed, many of the small streets or weinds to the south of Fishergate reflect the pre-industrial routes and field patterns.

The “marvellously brutal”2 Bus Station was constructed to the north-east of the Town-hall and the markets. The area was at the time densely occupied with mills and terraced houses. The building is situated a couple of blocks from the Townhall, but is very simply parallel to it and therefore to Friargate. It is placed within an open expanse or concourse, which was designed to allow the buses to flow freely around the building. Pedestrians were separated from the traffic with distinct unground routes. It is an enormous and elegant 171 meters long (560ft, it is, after all, a pre-decimalisation building), and can quite fairly be described as a landmark, and therefore an important element within the collective memory of the city. When constructed it paid little heed to pattern of pattern of the place, but has become a well-loved element within the bricolage of Preston. “Some ideal forms can exist as fragments, “collaged” into an empirical environment…”3

It is obvious that its position within the city doesn’t work. The Bus Station is essentially cut-off from the centre by the Guild Hall, the St. John’s Shopping centre and the concourse itself. The relationship with Church Street is lamentable, in fact, this area of the city, which was once thriving and profitable, has become, in places, derelict. The ring road has exacerbated the problems; effectively cutting the north of the city from the centre, and thus the land to the east, beyond the Bus Station, is almost inaccessible. This is not something new, it was actually foreseen by Derek Linstrum in his mostly ecstatic 1969 review of the building: …“the failure to estimate the building’s potential as an important addition to the town’s social life.”4

Gate 81 is a series of projects that intends to raise the profile of the building, and therefore increase the chance of saving it from the intended demolition. The latest project was a one-day charrette hosted by BDP Architects, ironically the architects of the original building and the now-abandoned Tithebarn shopping centre that was intended to replace the building. Academics, and students from the schools of architecture in Manchester, Liverpool and Central Lancashire, as well as professional architects and designers attended the charrette. BDP’s chairman David Cash, who quite romantically remembered the time that BDP was still in Preston and the legacy of the George Grenfell-Baines, launched the event. Kevin Rhowbotham delivered the key-note talk, well, call-to-arms. He invoked the memory of Collage City and pressed us all to consider the dialectical opposition of the Object and the Field, and how each can distinguish the other.

Five groups were created, each contained a mixture of professionals and students, and each approached the problem of how to revitalise this area of the city of Preston in a distinct and individual way. However, what linked all of the proposals was the appreciation that the project is much larger than just the remodelling of the Bus Station; it is an Urban Regeneration problem. All of the proposals considered the link between the city centre and the building, the  hinterland to the east and relationships that exist between the key elements of the urban environment.

“As in a cubist painting, where the organisational geometries do not reside in the objects themselves, the possibilities of combining various buildings within a system of order which attributes to each piece a bit of the organisation becomes almost infinite.”5

Group 1: Undivided

Preston Bus Station is shelter-like structure elevated upon strong concrete legs; this evokes comparisons with the cast-iron covered markets. This group proposed to raze the low quality structures directly next to the Bus Station concourse and thus create physical connections between all of the “roofs with legs”. The resultant public space or garden could support communal activities and also encourage public movement through the now open structure of the Bus Station, into the more formal area of distribution between the building and the Ring Road



Group 2: The Urban Arboretum Project

Preston’s Indoor Market is situated within a dark and somewhat isolated building, squashed beneath a carpark next to the Ringroad. This group considered the Bus Station as a perfect venue for the new market; it would be easily accessible and very easy to support. The areas behind the building could accommodate allotments and market gardens, while the concourse could hold performances and other communal activities. The top floor of the building also offers opportunities for growing stuff. The element of time and evolution was an important aspect of this project.



Group 3: 50 – 50 Group

This group considered the possibility of creating a direct link between the city’s cultural buildings and the Bus Station. By removing the substandard structures next to the concourse, a vista or connection could be established. This combined with moving all of the bus movement to the rear or east side of the building would create a collection of public spaces that could naturally evolve from temporary to permanent use over the course of a couple of decades.



Group 4: Going Underground

People need a reason to visit a place and therefore this group asked what Preston City Centre was missing. It is widely acknowledged that most casual city-centre shoppers follow a distinct circular route around the shops. If this circuit included a substantial flagship department store to the east of the Bus Station, that is the non-city centre side, then shoppers would be actively dragged through the building en-route. This would act to invigorate the building and any activities would naturally evolve within it.



Group 5: Artefact Park

Preston Bus Station is dramatic symbol of the city. When seen from the ring road it appears as a substantial and protective wall. This group considered the effect that extending the building would have upon the urban environment. To the north, it would recreate the connections that have been lost by the intrusion of dual carriageway, and to the south, relationships could be re-established with Church Street. The area of land to the east, beyond the massive wall could be considered as a garden of lost memorabilia.



1, Derek Linstrum, AJ 6th May 1970. 2, Clare Hartwell and Nikolaus Pevsner, Lancashire North. 3, Thomas Schumacher, Urban Ideals and Deformations. 4, Derek Linstrum, AJ 6th May 1970. 5, Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter, Collage City

BDP Architects to Host Charrette to discuss the Urban Implications of Preston Bus Station


In December 2012 Preston City Council voted ‘in principle’ to demolish Preston Bus Station and replace it with a surface car park. This building is a major cultural landmark and it should be preserved and creatively adapted to serve the city. It could act as a key building and public space to make Preston accessible and temper the decay that is affecting the city.

BDP Architects will host a charrette on Friday 28th June 2013, at their North West office to discuss ideas for the future of this building and the urban area surrounding it.

The charrette or workshop will be held in BDP’s Manchester offices in Piccadilly Basin. Key members of their architectural and urban design team will contribute to the discussion. They feel that this is a very important project, both locally and nationally. The state of panic that now exists in Preston is symptomatic of the reaction not only to the recession, which has hit the North particularly hard, but also to the change in shopping habits that the digital revolution has caused. How the post-industrial city will have to adapt to an uncertain future is one of the most pressing issues for architects and designers at this point in the twenty-first century.

Preston Bus Station was constructed in 1969, and was designed by BDP. It was built at a time of great confidence; it was, after all, the same year as the first Moon landing. The building resembled an airport lounge, testament to the importance that was placed upon it by the people of Preston. Modernist buildings can possess great quality and worth, and can contribute to the collective memory of a place. If we are not careful, we will regret the loss of many of them, just as we regret the loss of many older structures that were torn down in the name of progress. Certainly the Bus Station is very much a symbol of Preston, if it is lost the city will lose a famous landmark and part of its optimistic heritage.

This charrette is open to all, architects, designers, and students as well as anyone else who is interested in the future of the building.

Contact Sally Stone for more details or to discuss this further:

Gate 81 is a project that intends to bring to greater attention the plight of Preston’s Bus Station. There has been a considerable amount of negativity surrounding the future of the building, and this is our attempt to bring some optimism to the situation. To this end, we are staging a series of events to both raise the profile of the building, and to generate ideas for the future of this troubled building and the urban area that surrounds it. The first, which was held on May 11th, was an open workshop, collection of lectures and other happenings that was held on the concourse of the Bus Station. Gate 81 is supported by: The Arts Council, Manchester School of Architecture, They Eat Culture.

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller…

Projects in Cartmel and Venice

This year we have studied two locations, one home and one away. Both have a direct connection with sanctuary and with water. It is fabled that Cartmel Priory was founded in a place where fresh water flowed in opposite directions, and Venice, for whom water is not a problem but a theme, was originally a refuge for those locals who were driven into the muddy lagoon by barbarism, brutality and heresy.


See more CiA work here 

The aim of these projects was to find a formal solution to a site specific problem through the medium of contextual analysis, choice and manipulation. Ordinary things contain the deepest mysteries and the architect needs to have the capacity to condense the artistic potential of the region while reinterpreting cultural influences, for the building to show a great understanding of both place and tectonics, but also to be totally relevant to the twenty-first century; an architecture that uses contemporary technological and is suitable for the needs of today. This means not resorting to pastiche, but designing buildings and interiors that are visually and operationally applicable to the present day. It is almost thirty years since Kenneth Frampton wrote of the importance of Critical Regionalism, Rowe and Koetter composed Collage City and Rossi recorded The Architecture of the City, and although these ideas, which emerged as a reaction to Modernism, are more than a generation old, they are now more relevant than ever. One of the most pressing concerns for today’s society is how we engage with the existing situation in an appropriate, environmentally friendly and sympathetic manner. The pursuit of strategies for carbon-neutral buildings and places combined with issues of sustainability and heritage are central to all forms of design practice. The vernacular can offer great possibilities, after all, we have for centuries dwelled upon the problem of how to create controlled and conditioned environments for social relationships in buildings. We live under the same sun, shelter from the same rain, and resist buffeting from same wind as our ancestors, and yet within contemporary architecture we devote ever more resources and seek ever more complexity in solving these problems. We believe that less attention should be paid to the gratuitously flamboyant one-off project and more focus placed upon the appropriate. We search for inspiration in the normal and we take encouragement from the familiar. We seek to enhance rather than to overwhelm, we are inspired by the strangeness of the everyday, the unfamiliarity of the commonplace. We seek to establish our position as individuals in a dialogue with the common ground. We look, not just at the design of buildings, but also at the territory around them; public space, shared space, collective space. We investigate how a relationship between constructed form and controlled space can be established. The development of form is a one-by-one practice, a building is composed of diverse concerns and different horizontal connections can be uncovered, using the situation as the compositional driver. Programme evolves from the specific character of the site; it is something that emerges as the form of the building develops. Within a school of architecture, to construct has two different meanings, the first is the more obvious concentration upon the technology of the design, to understand the nature and ontology of the construction, to be aware of how and why a structure is built as it is. The second meaning is the production of the methods of communication. Evans claimed that “recognition of the drawings power as a medium turns out, unexpectedly, recognition of the drawing’s distinctness from and unlikeness to the thing that is represented, rather than its likeness to it, which is neither as paradoxical nor as dissociative as it may seem.” We believe that it is important that intent is shown as well as proposal. Context has dominated the design process; therefore it should play an important role in the communication. If the proposal is one element among a structure of objects and moments, situation will command.

Remember Reveal Construct


Scottish Ballet Headquarters


Recently CiA were honoured to receive a guided tour the Scottish Ballet Head Quarters in Glasgow, by the project architect, Clive Albert of Malcolm Fraser Architects. The building shares an entrance with the Tramway Gallery, and we although we had been warned about the inauspicious entrance, as we approached the building from Pollokshields station, the building did indeed look almost derelict. The SBHQ is actually entered from a staircase within the lobby of the Gallery, which deliberately encourages interaction between the different types of artist endeavour. The building itself is regarded as a place of work, rather that a place for performance, almost akin to an office and so it has a sense of serine calm and privacy rather than the dramatic flamboyance of a theatre. The dancers and all of the support staff turn up for workin the morning, just as the rest of us do.

The exterior of the building is tough, robust and somewhat uncompromising, however the interior is intricate and fastidious accomplishment. The sheer scale of the dance studios dictates the plan, but even so, these huge orthogonal spaces are skilfully arranged around a top-lit communal area. It is from here that the intricate three-dimensional relationships that have been created within the building are visible.


The timber-clad interior exudes the kind of warmth that the dancers need to keep their muscles supple. The studios themselves are uncluttered and clean. The space is graduated, so that the busy-ness of the ceiling space seems to recede into the greyness, leaving the pure white walls of the lower area to define the studio itself.


It is the fastidious attention to detail that ultimately defines this building. From the vertical timber batons on the interior walls to the deliberate inconsistency of the colour of the exterior cladding, it is clear that the architects have carefully considered the manner in which the building is used, the effect of weathering, and the experience of occupying it.



Continuity in Architecture is almost twenty years old. It is something that we would like to celebrate and we fully intend to mark the occasion with some sort of jamboree or other such event. Look out for further posts.

Over the years we have conducted projects in many different locations: Palma, Venice, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Dublin, Manchester, London, Valencia, Sant Sadurni, just to start with. But there is one location that we keep coming back to, it is a place that through position, evolution, history and neglect has a huge amount to offer us in Continuity in Architecture: it is of course: Preston. We have produced some marvellous proposals for the place, from bridges to tunnels, new urban squares to department stores, almost non-existent interventions to massive demolition works, all of which have their basis in the understanding and translation of the qualities of the area.

 Remember – Reveal – Construct

So it is with great anticipation that we notice that another institution has also recognised the worth of the place. The RIBA have just launched their FORGOTTEN SPACES competition in the engrossing city of Preston. Why not have a go? Why not have a look at the project that you’ve already designed? Let us remember some of your fabulous work. See extract from the competition brief below and competition call here

“Preston is full of potential for development, with proposals for major investment across the city. However, there still remain pockets of obscure leftover land and neglected plots that could- with imagination and new thinking- accommodate a host of functions, respond to local needs and provide a counterpoint to these wider investment proposals.

Held for the first time in the North West, this design competition asks architects, planners, artists, engineers and landscape designers to nominate an existing over- looked site in Preston and propose an idea for its improvement.

A ‘forgotten space’ could be small or large – a grassy verge, a wasteland, an unused car park, a derelict building, an empty unit, an underpass or a flyover. The proposal could be simple or complex, a commercial or public facility, a piece of public art or a new building. The main requirement is that it responds to the surrounding area and serves a function for the local community.”


Gate 81: Workshop at the University in Antwerp


Link to student projects 

“…I would say that even in historic times documents are not always available, and buildings (monuments, vernacular constructions and public works) are themselves important texts, often providing the first and most lasting impression of a culture.”*

antwerpinterrupted2blog.jpg  antwerpinterrupted1blog.jpg

The voids in the urban landscape, which are created by virtue of the enclosing nature of the surrounding buildings, have great value. These gaps, spaces or holes are important, for it is these that are occupied, that the visitor or resident will visit, pass through or inhabit. The structures that surround these squares contribute to the quality of the environment. Many buildings are deformed to accommodate the purity of the square, however some can exist as pure elements even within a complex system of buildings and voids. Ideal forms can exist as fragments, and can be viewed as mere collaborative elements to be“collaged” into an urban environment, and thus, rather than exist exclusively as landmarks, can contribute to the composition of the city.

In December 2012 Preston City Council voted ‘in principle’ to demolish Preston Bus Station and replace it with a surface car park. This building is a major cultural landmark and it should be preserved and creatively adapted to serve the city. It could act as a key building and public space to make Preston accessible and temper the decay that is affecting our city, and so many other city centres across the UK.

We will explore the nature of the fragment within an historic city, we will bring the Bus Station to Antwerp, it will occupy a definite place within the urban environment, it will:

 INTERRUPT the city

 “The bricoleur is adept at performing a large number of diverse tasks; but, in contrast to the engineer, he does not subordinate each one of them to the acquisition of raw materials and tools conceived and procured for the project: his universe of tools is closed, and the rule of his game is to always make do with ‘what’s available’, that is, a set, finite at each instance, of tools and materials, heterogeneous to the extreme, because the composition of the set is not related to the current project, or, in any case, to any particular project, but is the contingent result of all the occasions that have occurred to renew or enrich the stock, or to maintain it with the remains of previous constructions or destructions.”#

 *VIA 8 Architecture & Literature, Form, Modernism & History ed. A. von Hoffmann, Harvard 1996 (* quotation from Interactive Realms by Jorge Silvetti). #Lévi-Strauss, C La Pensée Sauvage Librairie Plon, Paris, 1962, ch 1, p 31 [Ref. 59, p 17]