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Contest for new Milton Keynes university to launch next year

Milton Keynes
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An international competition will be held next year for a new vocational and STEM university in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire

The two-stage open contest – organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) – will select a team for the ‘new model’ university in the heart of Milton Keynes.

Planned to open in 2023, the proposed ‘MK:U’ university will host 15,000 students and focus on vocational and STEM subjects relating to digital, cyber, autonomy, robotics and artificial intelligence.

The project – backed by Cranfield University and Milton Keynes (MK) Council – is one of the flagship elements of the MK Futures 2050 programme, which anticipates a more than doubling of population within the New Town settlement by 2050.

A 12ha unused plot close to Milton Keynes station bordered by Grafton Street, Witan Gate, Aylesbury Boulevard and Childs Way has been earmarked for the new campus.

MK:U programme director and Cranfield University pro-vice-chancellor, Lynette Ryals said: ‘The competition will set out a fascinating design challenge − to create a world-class university that offers a new model of education at the heart of the fast-growing, high-tech Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford arc.

‘We will be searching for outstanding multi-disciplinary teams that connect with our vision and relate to Milton Keynes – a smart city with an entrepreneurial mindset and a great place to try out new technologies and future ways of living.’

Pete Marland, leader of Milton Keynes Council, said: ‘The design competition is a once in a generation opportunity to develop a landmark building to showcase a UK city. We look forward to launching the competition and engaging with the design community.

‘This is an ambitious project to hugely improve the quality of life in Milton Keynes and deliver a world-class university in the city.’

Competition director, Malcolm Reading, said: ‘We are delighted to be appointed to run this open two-stage international competition. Milton Keynes is at the heart of the UK’s knowledge economy and the new university proposes a forward-looking model of higher education with the emphasis on in-demand skills and retaining local talent.’

The competition – due to launch in early 2019 – comes a year after an all-women team made up of architects, designers and engineers won an earlier MRC contest for ideas to boost sustainable development within the UK’s Cambridge-to-Oxford growth corridor.

Teams interested in the MK:U contest may pre-register online for more information and updates.

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