RIBA South 2021 Award Winners
This is a challenging project that has been beautifully crafted. A high level of research, interrogation, collaboration and consultation from an enthusiastic team has delivered a building and facility that remains true to the ethos of the original masterplan and aesthetic.
Existing interior spaces have been opened up and reconfigured to provide a better user experience and flexibility while passing through to other facilities, including the new performance space. The reworking of the original gallery spaces, with a new window to the plaza and combined with the new galleries, provides an enfilade connection through all the galleries to the Milton Keynes parkland beyond. The use of two-colour palettes, extracted from the original MK concepts, provides clear wayfinding whilst also reinforcing the original idea of the muted picturesque against the vibrant cosmopolitan.
This idea also features in the use of colour and materials on the building externally. The new galleries are clad in reflective materials which are either solid or perforated, so that they appear light or disappear.
Reinterpreting the original collaborators’ ideas, brought through to this latest design - colours, fonts, materials, and street furniture, to the extent of finding an original developers’ ‘pointing finger’ gate and incorporating it into the street landscaping - brings out the authenticity of the project. It’s another level of project team commitment to designing a building for now and the future, using originality and maintaining the MK New Town way, albeit more than 50 years on from the early concept.