The Competition

The MK:U International Design Competition was a two-stage competition comprised of an open Expression of Interest followed by a design period for a shortlist of five teams.

Through the competition, MK:U was seeking an outstanding multidisciplinary design team and concept design for an exemplary new university for Milton Keynes (MK). Collaboration between established and emerging talent, and between UK and international talent, was strongly encouraged.

At the first stage, MK:U was seeking creative teams led by an architect. Teams were required to include as a minimum: architect, urban designer/​masterplanner, landscape architect, structural engineer, civil/​utilities engineer and MEP (services) engineer. Internationally-based teams were required to propose a UK-based executive architect as part of their team.

At stage one, MK:U was not seeking a design but a demonstration of qualifications: company information; details of the proposed team; and relevant experience.

In March 2019, the five shortlisted teams were announced. These teams attended a site visit and seminar in MK and received further detailed briefing information.

The design challenge for the shortlisted teams at stage two focused on the phase one development of MK:U, as well as the phased masterplan framework. Teams were required to propose additional consultancy including Principal Designer; BIM lead; sustainability/​BREEAM; lift/​vertical transportation; fire engineer; acoustic engineer; façade engineer; interior designer; IT/AV consultant; catering consultant; access consultant; security consultant; and highways consultant.

The designs produced by the shortlisted teams can be viewed online here and were on display in a free exhibition in Middleton Hall, the centre:mk, Milton Keynes between 4 – 7 July 2019. The public were asked to give feedback on the concepts via comments cards at the exhibition and by email.

The jury, chaired by Sir Peter Gregson, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University and chair of the MK Futures 2050 Commission, met in July 2019 to interview the shortlist and selected the team led by Hopkins Architects as the winner of the competition.

An honorarium of £30,000 was paid to each finalist team for their competition work.

Further details can be found in the Search Statement.

Competition Timeline 

Stage One
Stage One Launch Wednesday 30 January 2019
Deadline for questions 14:00 GMT
Wednesday 20 February 2019
Stage One Submission Deadline 14:00 GMT
Wednesday 6 March 2019
Stage Two (Anticipated)

Stage Two Launch 

Late March 2019
Shortlist Announced Late March 2019
Site visit Mid-April 2019 
Stage Two Submission Deadline 14:00 BST
Tuesday 4 June 2019
Jury Early July 2019 
Winner announced Late July 2019