A Meeting of Landscape and City: 6a’s Extended MK Gallery Opens in Milton Keynes

Originally published on Frieze.com

The London firm’s bold, contextually astute renovation of the 1990s gallery pays homage to the functional forms of Britain’s ur-New Town

Designed and constructed through the late-1960s and 70s, Milton Keynes was a fully realized, modern interpretation of a garden city, an update on Ebenezer Howard’s 19th-century ideal of dense urban communities surrounded by nature. Under the direction of the late Derek Walker and the influence of mid-century North American urbanism, the Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC) architects’ department created a visionary city of boulevards, square blocks and underpasses that was ‘greener than the landscape around it’, in Walker’s words. In the years since, its profile has dimmed somewhat and, these days, the town is often associated with roundabouts and little else.

Walking through the city is an uncanny experience, which only begins to make sense when you realize there are no billboards. The lack of visual clutter, in combination with the rectilinear architecture and planning of the ur-New Town in the south-west Midlands, means that the built environment is stark, almost minimalist, and new additions either fit in or they don’t…

Originally published on Frieze.com

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