Five visions for new university go out for public consultation

The teams competing to design a new university in Milton Keynes have unveiled their visions.

Five architect-led teams were shortlisted in March from 53 global submissions for the MK:U project.

They are: Wilkinson Eyre with dRMM, Mecanoo and Aecom (Co:MK:U); Hawkins Brown with Sam Jacob Studio; Hopkins, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands with Architecture 00; and OMA with Nicholas Hare Architects and Carmody Groarke.


The proposed new university, which will have a construction budget of approximately £188m, is due to open to its first undergraduates in 2023 in the so-called Oxford-to-Cambridge innovation arc.

A partnership between Milton Keynes council and Cranfield University, it will focus on digital economy skills and practical, business-oriented courses as well as offering fast-track two-year degrees.

Hawkins Brown

The designs, along with models and videos, are on display in Middleton Hall, The Centre:MK, until July 7 and on the competition website.

Feedback, which can be left at the exhibition or by email to, will be passed to the 12 competition jurors who will meet to interview the teams and select the winner later in the month.


The jury includes Paul Williams of Stanton Williams, urban planner Joe Berridge of Urban Strategies, ITV chairman Peter Bazalgette, the chief executive of Santander UK, the leader of the local council and the director the MK Gallery which was recently expanded by 6a.

Competition director Malcolm Reading said: “This is a competition focused on placemaking at both the city and institutional scale, and all five teams have answered the brief with sophisticated propositions.


>> Also read: Big-name architects in running to design Milton Keynes university

>> Also read: 6a’s MK Gallery opens to the public


“These concept designs all complement MK’s emblematic urban grid pattern but offer five different identities for MK:U.

“They respond to the context, environment and history of MK with diverse strategies to give the new university powerful civic presence, to connect it to the wider city, and mix green public space with academic and student residential space.”

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


The five finalist teams

Co:MK:U — Wilkinson Eyre 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