Learning from Milton Keynes
The potential for empowerment through architectural form
“By any sane definition of democracy, we can at least now see that ultimate human satisfactions no longer depend upon density of population. Already we are that far ahead. And that perception is prophetic of a future for democracy.“
Frank Lloyd Wright, 1945
As Manhattan’s Culture of Congestion is re-sampled in Shanghai, Mumbai and Sao Paulo it is easy to ignore the fact that the majority of people in the UK choose Frank’s advice and live in a low density, suburban neighbourhood. Seemingly distant from the disparate demands of policymakers, politicians, tastemakers and architects the suburban dweller can aspire to find the space to just do-it-themselves. An active producer, not a passive consumer.
Learning from the growing city
In rural Buckinghamshire, someway north of London, sits Milton Keynes, MK. The archetype of the low density, suburban city this is the phenomenon at its purest and most intense. We believe a careful documentation and analysis of both its physical form and residents’ adaptation is as important to architects and urbanists today as were studies of Georgian London and ancient Rome to earlier generations. Such a study will help to define a new type of urban form that began in America and Europe but is rapidly spreading throughout the world. Through open minded and non-judgemental investigation, Studio 2 aim to come to understand this distinct form and begin to evolve technique for its handling.
Designing the sub-centre
“Social classes rarely come together, but if they can make temporary alliances in the designing and building of multi-valued community architecture, a sense of paradox and irony will be needed on all sides.”
Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour, 1972
The main project will confront the paradox that lies at the heart of MK Man, the contradictions of the Lone Ranger vs Family Guy – to design a neighbourhood centre in the centreless city. A thorough analysis of a neighbourhood in MK will lead to a new interpretation of the needs of the public realm and ultimately a new proposal for a building, or collection of buildings, that form a neighbourhood centre.
Being shocked by the old
Immersing ourselves in the architectural context we will visit Milton Keynes, Chicago and Columbus, Indiana. Seeking appropriate methods of representation for this new form we will read Paul Barker, emulate Richard Hamilton, study Greg Crewdson and workshop with new illustrators.
“So abandon that Spitalfields loft and head out for that virtual city waiting for its Edward Hopper and Ed Ruscha, its Rimbaud of the video rental store, its Warhol of the shopping malls. As always the most exciting spaces of the imagination are where you least expect to find them.”