MK High Street
The plan of Milton Keynes deliberately forsakes a level of urban intensity to avoid its dual; congestion. Three boulevards run east to west through the centre. To facilitate the smooth running of traffic these boulevards are composed of a central four lane road, flanked on either side by a two lane service road. These in turn are lined with parking on both sides, resulting in a distance of 75 metres between buildings. Lines of trees separate the roads and direction of travel from each other. This to some extent softens the impact of the cars, but it also furthers the sense of separation across the boulevard. The trees, the large scale of the blocks and the great distance between them produces a very particular experience; one of diffuse urbanism.
While appreciating the special character of MK we think a re-calibration of its urban fabric is both possible and desirable. Our strategic response is to claim the rows of parking spaces located between the central road and the service roads. On this newly claimed land we are proposing a single storey structure that faces the service road and in doing so sets up a relationship with the building opposite; in effect turning the road into a street. We have chosen to adopt the 2.4x4.8 metre module of the parking space as a means to introduce a finer grain to the urban fabric. This finer grain is applied both at the level of the architectural intervention, but more importantly at the level of activity. Our proposal for the festival is to build a trial pavilion (one instance of the larger strategy) on Midsummer Boulevard.
By introducing a space based on a 2.4x4.8 metre module, orders of magnitude different from the typical MK block, we are attempting to allow new activities and ventures to emerge. Building on the lively open market we envisage a space that could become home to cafés, galleries or exhibition spaces; incubators, offices or workshops; playgrounds, social spaces, shops or salons. The proposed test pavilion will host a café, a shop and office to serve as a as a meeting point and to open up a discussion on what types of activities could emerge along High Street MK.
The pavilion takes as its departure the porte-cochère as a natural reference for scale and architectural language. The structure proposed is painted softwood and stained plywood assembled to form timber I beams spanning the 2.4x4.8 meter module. The main module further subdivides further to 1.2x2.4, the typical size of sheet materials allowing for efficient construction with minimum waste. Polycarbonate windows and doors form an open and inviting display to the outside and layer of metal mesh provides depth and relief to the upper portion of the facade.