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Five Designs Unveiled in International Design Competition for MK:U University Quarter

4 July 2019

Photo of Milton Keynes Milton Keynes

The five shortlisted designs for a proposed new university quarter in Milton Keynes have been unveiled as part of an international design competition.

The competition, run by Malcolm Reading Consultants, for Milton Keynes Council, will now move to the judging stage before the final design for the university’s campus is announced in August.

Milton Keynes Council, the project sponsors of MK:U and Cranfield University, the lead higher education institution for MK:U, are inviting public comments on the five designs to help guide the judging panel in their decision about the new university quarter which will be located in the heart of Milton Keynes. The designs go live online today at http://competitions.malcolmreading.com/mku and the gallery is open to all MK residents to comment.

Models of the five designs will be available for viewing at the upcoming ‘Milton Keynes: A Journey to 2050 exhibition’ being held at Middleton Hall in the centre:mk between Thursday 4 July and Sunday 7 July.  

The exhibition tells the story of how Milton Keynes could develop over the next 30 years, at which point it is expected to be larger than the current size of Edinburgh or Cardiff.   It will also feature electric cars, bikes and delivery robots, as well as public talks, children’s activities and a look at how A Festival of Creative Urban Living will transform Midsummer Boulevard later in 2019.

The proposed new university, MK:U, will offer innovative and flexible education focused on new technologies and digital skills, including AI, robotics and cyber security. It will also offer undergraduate degrees in business and entrepreneurship, as well as courses in design thinking and professional and commercial skills, when it opens its doors in 2023. The team behind the proposed university are co-designing courses with future-focused business partners including Microsoft and Santander. Santander announced in May that they are backing the project with a £30m investment after the bank recently set out plans for a state-of-the-art technology hub in Milton Keynes, where it will have 5000 staff.

Professor Lynette Ryals, MK:U’s Chief Executive and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, said “MK:U is going to be an economic asset to the whole UK, not just Milton Keynes, creating the graduates that businesses say they desperately need and addressing the national and international skills shortages in fast-growing new technologies and industries. Seeing the designs by our five shortlisted teams for the first time is a major boost for the project and for the city. MK:U will be something that MK should be really proud of; it’s a hugely ambitious and forward-thinking plan. We want every MK resident to visit the competition website and give us their views on the designs.”

Milton Keynes Council Leader Pete Marland, said “The competition has produced five thought-provoking pieces of design for our jury to review, and it’s now our task to pick the right team to work with.  We’ll be looking in close detail at the submissions as well as listening to local feedback.  The University Quarter is the last major undeveloped site in our city centre and an opportunity to create new energy in our public spaces through exceptional design.”

The new MK:U quarter will be built on a 10.1 hectare block of land that is located minutes from the central rail station. The build project for MK:U has an overall budget of £188m and will be completed in time for the new university to open its doors in 2023. The competition’s jury features several international names including Santander UK plc CEO Nathan Bostock, ITV’s non-Executive Chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette, and Professor Dame Madeleine Atkins, President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge; and will be chaired by Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, Professor Sir Peter Gregson.

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