United Kingdom

A new model university in the ‘Smart City’, Milton Keynes (MK), MK:U is intended to transform thinking about higher education. 

MK:U will create an environment where innovation is a given and where students can learn alongside business mentors and in business situations.

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

Headline subjects include robotics and artificial intelligence; digital and cyber; smart cities; business and entrepreneurship; and design thinking. 

Benefiting from a prominent 10-hectare site, the last major undeveloped site in the city centre, MK:U will have an exceptionally strong relationship to MK because the city’s long-term future depends on retaining and attracting talent.

Through a ‘living lab’ approach, MK’s citizens and businesses will be able to participate in the university’s research, education and social activities and contribute to its students’ learning.

The competition focuses on finding multi-disciplinary creative teams and is run to public procurement regulations.

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

We want to commission architecture that is a call to action: drawing out human talent and equipping people from all backgrounds for the life-long challenges and opportunities of the digital economy.

We’re ambitious to set a new standard in university architecture, to create a memorable destination for citizens, and ultimately, a university with an exemplary and iconic physical presence.

Project details

Co:MK:U – WilkinsonEyre and AECOM with Spaces that Work, Mecanoo, dRMM, Publica, Contemporary Art Society and Tricon

Hawkins\Brown with KCAP, Grant Associates, BuroHappold Engineering and Sam Jacob Studio
Hopkins Architects with Prior+Partners, Expedition Engineering, Atelier Ten, GROSS. MAX. , Buro 4, RLB Schumann, GRFN, Caneparo Associates, QCIC, Nick Perry Associates, Access=Design, Cordless Consultants, Sandy Brown Associates, FMDC and Tricon

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands with Architecture 00, Heyne Tillett Steel, Hoare Lea, Bradley-Hole Schoenaich Landscape Architects, Ken Baker, Steer, Iceni, Abell Nepp, Mark London, FMDC, People Friendly Design, PFB Construction Management and FiD

OMA with BuroHappold Engineering, Planit-IE, Nicholas Hare Architects, Carmody Groarke, Galmstrup, Approved Consultant Services and Russell Partnership
Won by
To be announced
Project Value
£188 million