Shortlist announced for MK:U International Design Competition

Details of twelve-strong jury also announced

08 MKU Shortlist Image

Clockwise from top left: Jennifer Dixon (AECOM) and Stafford Critchlow (WilkinsonEyre) of Co:MK:U; Frank Werner (KCAP) and Oliver Milton of Hawkins\Brown; Michael Taylor and Thom Kilvert of Hopkins Architects; Nina La Cour Sell (Henning Larsen) and Alex Lifschutz of Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands; Ellen van Loon and Reinier de Graaf of OMA. Images courtesy of the respective teams.

  • Five teams chosen to create masterplan and concept designs for prominent 10-hectare site
  • Shortlist includes both UK and international teams
  • Full jury announced, including Nathan Bostock, CEO, Santander UK plc; acclaimed urban planner Joe Berridge; Phil Smith, Former Chairman, Cisco UK & Ireland; Professor Dame Madeleine Atkins, President, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge; Paul Williams OBE, Principal Director, Stanton Williams Architects; and Sir Peter Bazalgette, Non-Executive Chairman, ITV
  • Competition attracts Expressions of Interest from 53 teams in 14 countries

Milton Keynes Council (MKC) together with Cranfield University and Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) today [28 March 2019] announced the shortlist for the MK:U International Design Competition for a new model university in the Oxford to Cambridge innovation arc. Details of the twelve-strong jury were also announced.

The first stage of the competition, which launched in January 2019, attracted 53 team submissions comprising 257 individual firms from across the globe.

The five finalist teams are:

  • Co:MK:U – WilkinsonEyre and AECOM with Spaces that Work, Mecanoo, dRMM, Publica and Contemporary Art Society
  • Hawkins\Brown with KCAP, Grant Associates, BuroHappold Engineering and Sam Jacob Studio
  • Hopkins Architects with Prior+Partners, Expedition Engineering, Atelier Ten and GROSS. MAX.
  • Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands with Henning Larsen, Architecture 00, Heyne Tillett Steel, Hoare Lea, Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape Architects, Ken Baker, Steer, Iceni, Abell Nepp and FiD
  • OMA with BuroHappold Engineering, Planit-IE, Nicholas Hare Architects, Carmody Groarke and Galmstrup

Collaboration between established and emerging talent, and between UK and international talent, was encouraged for MK:U. Stage one criteria included a demonstration of qualifications: company information; details of the proposed team; and examples of relevant experience.

The teams will now attend a site visit in Milton Keynes (MK) and receive a detailed briefing. They will have 10 weeks to create a masterplan for the 10-hectare site and concept designs for 61,120sqm of built area in phase one, including key buildings. This phase has a construction budget of approximately £188m.

MK:U is a new model university and one of the flagship projects of the MK Futures 2050 programme, which supports MKC’s ambition to create a city of opportunity for all. The new university is intended to create a new higher education exemplar that is open, accessible, dynamic, technologically-focused, innovative, diverse, business-oriented and entrepreneurial.

Through its ambitious curriculum focused on digital economy skills, MK:U will honour the innovative spirit of nearby Bletchley Park, the birthplace of modern computing, and further MK’s pioneering work in ‘Big Data’, transport innovation and urban design.

MK:U will go beyond the scope of a traditional university, using its own University Quarter and the wider city as a ‘living lab’ to test out new concepts and ideas, and inspire MK’s students and citizens.

The international jury, chaired by Professor Sir Peter Gregson FREng, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University and chair of the MK Futures 2050 Commission, will include a starry line-up from the worlds of business, science, tech, academia, the arts and MK itself.

Members include: Professor Dame Madeleine Atkins, President, Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge; Sir Peter Bazalgette, Non-Executive Chairman, ITV; Joe Berridge, Partner, Urban Strategies Inc.; Nathan Bostock, CEO, Santander UK plc; Rebecca Kurth, Chair, Central Milton Keynes Town Council; Councillor Pete Marland, Leader, Milton Keynes Council; Sumit Paul-Choudhury, Founder and Managing Director of Alternity and former Editor-in-Chief, New Scientist; Professor Lynette Ryals OBE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Cranfield University and Chief Executive, MK:U; Phil Smith, Former Chairman, Cisco UK & Ireland; Anthony Spira, Director, MK Gallery; and Paul Williams OBE, Principal Director, Stanton Williams Architects.

Professor Lynette Ryals OBE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Cranfield University and Chief Executive, MK:U, said:

‘The architectural community responded enthusiastically to the competition, we were in no doubt that they connected with our vision and it was humbling to choose from such a high-powered and talented field. We want to express our deep thanks to all who entered.
‘MK:U is predicated on achieving excellence and we know from research that the quality of the learning environment directly affects learning outcomes. The finalist teams proved they can deliver exceptional design in educational settings, and communicated both collaborative spirit and energy in thoughtful and detailed submissions.
‘We can’t wait to welcome the teams to MK and keenly anticipate their forthcoming masterplans and concept designs – these will go on show to the public and online digitally in early summer before the jury meets.’

Competition Director, Malcolm Reading, said:

‘This is an inspired project and integral to the development of MK. MK:U is emblematic of the city’s commitment to meeting the needs of new generations, engaging with them as they learn, and involving them in the changing city.
‘Design excellence was the original force behind MK, and continues to inspire the city as it grows. Through its programme, masterplan and design, MK:U will set a new national benchmark for higher education and also for place-making in a city.
‘The quality of submissions was outstanding, and many had chosen to assemble inspired teams with international expertise. The finalists succeeded by matching distinctive expertise to the opportunities offered in the brief, and combined this with a well-structured approach to team dynamics.’

MK:U is expected to open to its first students — undergraduates, returners and mature learners — by 2023. All three phases are due to complete within 15 years, when the university will serve 15,000 students.

Located at the heart of the Oxford to Cambridge innovation arc and just 30 minutes from London by train, MK, now known as a Smart City, has excellent connectivity; its proximity to the M1 motorway and rail network means twenty million people can reach it within 60 minutes.

An honorarium of £30,000 will be paid to each shortlisted team that submits a compliant tender. Internationally-based teams were required to propose a UK-based executive architect as part of their team. A technical panel will review the second-stage submissions and produce a report for the jury, who will conduct interviews and select a winner.

There will be a public exhibition of all the second-stage designs at Middleton Hall in MK running 4-7 July 2019 before the jury meets. The designs will also be published online.

The winner announcement is expected in summer 2019.

For further updates on the competition, please visit the competition website.

The competition is being run under EU procurement rules and to current UK legislation.