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Milton Keynes pop-up installations contest winners announced

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Milton Keynes Council has announced the winners of an international contest for a £36,000 series of pop-up installations as part of the town’s inaugural Festival of Creative Urban Living

The competition invited artists, creatives, architects, designers and performers to draw up proposals for three temporary artworks on Midsummer Boulevard East in the town centre.

The winning ideas include a nocturnal marching band by Italian artists Andrea Spreafico and Matteo Fargion, a mobile radio station by international events platform No Purpose Collective and a ‘Utopian Laundromat’ by Belgium’s La Bonneterie.

Proposals had to respond to the theme of the biennial festival, which is this year curated by German experimental architectural practice Raumlabor Berlin and focuses on ‘The Built, The Unbuilt and The Unbuildable’.

The three winners will each receive a £3,000 fee each to produce their scheme in time for the festival, which runs from 26 September to 13 October. Images of the winning schemes have yet to be revealed.

Last month, Hopkins Architects won an international contest to design a landmark new £188 million vocational and STEM university in Milton Keynes. Key cultural schemes within the town include 6a’s overhaul of the MK Gallery and the MK Menhir by Sam Jacob Studio.

The new biennial festival is part of the town’s bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023. The event will aim to promote discussion about Milton Keynes’ original design principles and the shape of future development in the area.

The contest focused on delivering three temporary installations, which will serve as a hub for the festival on Midsummer Boulevard East – an area earmarked for major regeneration within the city.

Judges included Jan Liesegang and Benjamin Foerster Baldenius of Raumlabor Berlin; Nick Green from ON/OFF Architects; Barbara Kaucky of Erect Architects; Simon Wright, public programmes curator at the MK Gallery; and local artist Caroline Devine. 

The winners

Good Morning Milton Keynes! Oh… It’s Afternoon! by Spreafico Eckley with Matteo Fargion

A new composition for Milton Keynes will be played out in different locations within the Festival campus and along Midsummer Boulevard, in a unique collaboration between composers Spreafico Eckley and Matteo Fargion, and the brass bands of MK.

As the sun is setting, the rousing spectacle of a marching brass band will play out to those who happen upon this unusual and remarkable performance. A changing, single sung sentence marks the end of the composition, which combines to create a poem for the city – a call to action to celebrate all that is good and positive about the future.

The Boulevard Broadcast by No Purpose Collective

The Boulevard Broadcast is a mobile radio station with the unique ability to pick up signals from the future and broadcast to the present. As it cycles up and down Midsummer Boulevard, its antenna aerial swaying in the air, the radio will host workshops with different communities to explore and uncover fictional narratives about future living in Milton Keynes. These stories will be broadcast in a daily radio show.

Utopian Laundromat by La Bonneterie

An installation on a human scale which proposes a different way to wash, dry and to recycle water. The masterpiece of this mechanism is three connected watersheds – the water runs from clean to dirty, from the bottom to the top – immersed in the different watersheds. In the middle of this revolutionary mechanical system is a common space, a soft detergent workshop, a filters research space and open-mic scene. Utopian Laundromat is a ‘place to combine business with pleasure, harmonising the needs of nature with the needs of being human’.

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