Shortlist announced for MK:U International Design Competition

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\Brownwith 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.”

Malcolm Reading, Competition Director, 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 website.

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

Notes to Editors

About MK:U

MK:U will be a “new model” university, designed to meet urgent technological and societal challenges head on.

It represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a university with business, for business, equipping students for future careers in emerging fields. Subjects such as robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber and analytics will ensure that students at MK:U are equipped for the 21st century workplace. Its learning model will focus on the practical knowledge and skills needed by business to solve problems and generate new growth in a digital age.

MK:U’s ambition is to transform how we think about higher education.

About the Shortlisted Teams

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

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

The Co:MK:U team has been specially assembled to make an informed, creative and decisive response to the MK:U brief. Collaborative, courageous and co-ordinated, this is a design team of international stature offering a deep understanding of the contextual sensibilities of the unique city of MK, expert experience in creating new and inspiring learning and research environments, and the capability to deliver a bold and unique solution with delivery certainty.

The principals of WilkinsonEyre and AECOM have formed a Design Executive to lead this award-winning team, supported by the full range of AECOM design, engineering and delivery specialisms. A panel of industry leaders will provide criticism and provocation in the course of this exciting briefing and design challenge.

Hawkins\Brown with KCAP, Grant Associates, BuroHappold Engineering and Sam Jacob Studio

Hawkins\Brown is one of the UK’s leading architects in the higher education sector. Founded over 30 years ago by partners Russell Brown and Roger Hawkins, the firm works across a range of types and scales, bringing a collaborative approach to its projects. Over the last 30 years they have completed many high-profile projects for world top ten universities, including UCL and Oxford.

For the MK:U design competition, Hawkins\Brown is leading an international, multi-disciplinary team based out of London comprising Sam Jacob Studio, KCAP, BuroHappold and Grant Associates.

Hawkins\Brown recently completed Here East, transforming London’s 2012 Olympic broadcast centre. In 2016 the practice completed the headquarters of UCL Bartlett, one of the world’s most prestigious schools of architecture. In 2013 Hawkins\Brown was shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize for its work on the regeneration of Park Hill in Sheffield.

Hopkins Architectswith Prior+Partners, Expedition Engineering, Atelier Ten and GROSS. MAX.

Drawing on over 25 years of experience working with and teaching at some of the most renowned global universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard and Princeton, our team is well placed to deliver a completely new model for future university design. Led by Hopkins Architects, we have a history of collaboration on prestigious projects such as the London 2012 Olympics and the Dubai 2020 Expo.

MK:U will transform the approach to education and knowledge development, blurring the boundaries between learning and enterprise. The focus on digital skills not only positions MK as part of the technology arc, but also provides opportunities to test technologies within the fabric of the city to support sustainable growth.

This unique opportunity provides an important civic function that builds on MK’s culture of innovation, contributes to its evolving identity and acts as a catalyst to the renaissance of the city centre.

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

Our team draws together the skills and disciplines required to successfully deliver this impressive brief for a 21st-century university in MK, an icon of 20th-century urban planning.

Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands bring 30 years of successful city making, design leadership and an understanding of how the academic community and stakeholder involvement can help shape the campus masterplan in the first place and then occupy the buildings productively over the long term.

Henning Larsen bring unrivalled international expertise in the Higher Education sector and knowledge that comes from delivering many campus and university projects across the world, from Scandinavia, through Europe to the US and Australia.

Together with Architecture 00 and a talented team of other designers and consultants, we will develop strategies that answer the fundamental challenge of this project: to make a working piece of city with its own civic identity, integrating town and gown.

OMA with BuroHappold Engineering, Planit-IE, Nicholas Hare Architects, Carmody Groarke and Galmstrup

OMA is an international practice operating within the traditional boundaries of architecture and urbanism. AMO, a research and design studio, applies architectural thinking to domains beyond. OMA-designed buildings currently under construction include The Factory Manchester, a new building for Brighton College, Axel Springer Campus in Berlin, the RAI Nhow Hotel in Amsterdam, the New Museum for Western Australia in Perth and Taipei Performing Arts Centre.

OMA’s commitment to education has resulted in innovative projects throughout the world, highly concentrated in the redefinition and sustainability of educational institutions such as Lab City CentraleSupélec in Paris-Saclay, Cornell University’s Milstein Hall, the Seattle Central Library, Bibliothèque Alexis de Tocqueville in Caen and the recently-completed National Library of Qatar.

Led by OMA partners Ellen van Loon and Reinier de Graaf, OMA’s team for MK:U consists of BuroHappold Engineering, Planit-IE (Planit Intelligent Environments), Nicholas Hare Architects, Camordy Groarke and Galmstrup.

About the Jury

Detailed juror biographies can be found on the competition website.

About Milton Keynes Council

Established in 1967 as the most successful product of the new towns movement and a cultural artefact in its own right, MK been the fastest-growing city and economy in the UK for the past 30 years. Milton Keynes Council is its unitary authority, delivering more than 250 services to 270,000 diverse citizens.

The MK Futures 2050 Commission was initiated by the council in 2015 as a project to explore the long-term futures for MK as it emerges as a UK city and economy of increasing significance. Big projects for the city’s future include the creation of MK:U, improving the city centre, and leading the way on smart, shared, sustainable mobility.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

We are focused on the specialist themes of aerospace, defence and security, energy and power, environment and agrifood, manufacturing, transport systems, and water. Cranfield School of Management is a world leader in management education and research.

We are home to many world-class, large-scale facilities which enhance our teaching and research. We are the only university in Europe to own and run an airport and to have airline status.

Cranfield teaches over 4,500 postgraduate students each year and employs 1,500 academic and support staff. We have the largest number of engineering master’s students in the UK. Our staff-to-student ratio is one of the best for any university in the UK (one member of academic staff to every seven students).

We work closely with business, industry and government across the world. Through our industry partnerships, applied research projects and our executive education and professional development programmes, we currently work with over 1,500 companies and organisations.

We are ranked number one in the UK for research income from industry per academic, with 81% of our research classed as world-leading or internationally-excellent by REF (Research Excellence Framework, 2014).

About Malcolm Reading Consultants

Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) is a strategic consultancy that helps clients to imagine and define contemporary environments, both built and natural. MRC is the leading specialist in devising and managing design competitions internationally. MRC believes in the power of design to create new perceptions and act as an inspiration.

Recent work includes competitions for the Cambridge to Oxford Connection (UK); University College Dublin (Ireland); Gallaudet University (Washington, D.C., US); Kaunas M.K. Čiurlionis Concert Centre (Lithuania); the Royal College of Art (UK); the V&A (UK); the Mumbai City Museum (India); and new buildings for the UK’s New College, Oxford and Homerton College, Cambridge.

Malcolm Reading currently advises the Royal Household; the British Library; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art; Exeter College, Oxford; St Catharine’s College, Cambridge; and Transport for London.