a simple rectangular form wrapped in corrugated stainless steel functions as the new extension of a 20-year-old gallery in milton keynes, UK. designed by 6a architects, the london-based studio stripped back the interiors of the existing galleries and cut new openings in a nod to the city’s axial layout with its uninterrupted views. the £12m reboot includes gallery spaces, an auditorium, education facilities, a café and bar.
6a architects were chosen from a competition for the project by the director of MK gallery, anthony spira, who was impressed by it’s study into the history of milton keynes. the parallel lines of the corrugated, stainless-steel façade and the rectangular form of the structure represent milton keynes’s most distinctive feature – the modernist grid of roads that make up the town.
elements of the original gallery still exist such as the main entrance adjacent to the milton keynes theatre which was built in the 1990s. the façade has been painted in sandstone and terracotta, a revival of the original design, and plastered with a neon heart and the original typographic logotype for milton keynes. the new bold blue graphic logo for MK gallery which was redesigned last year is also there. the architects also repurposed a former loading bay to create a space for the café. exposed concrete, bright globe lighting and colourful pipes reference to the interior of the city’s former architecture department, an early work of norman foster nicknamed the custard factory.
6a architects worked with artists nils norman and milton keynes-born gareth jones to come up with an eye-popping color palette for the interior. drawing inspiration from a color chart found in a 1978 habitat catalogue, stairwells are coated in candy pink, dairy cream and canary yellow. meanwhile toilets are decked out in orange, pillar box red, burgundy, peppermint green and chocolate.
norman and jones’ work continues in the form of artful cut-outs to create new windows and sightlines reminiscent of the city’s long vistas. designed in collaboration with the architects. in the second floor auditorium a circle shape has been carved in the exterior, creating a vast semicircular window that opens out to a nearby park. the walls are clad with raw plywood and exposed acoustic foam, and lining the space is a curtain striped with an abstract landscape of brown, green and blue – continuing the 70s vision.
kieron marchese I designboom
mar 09, 2019