The design team dealing with northern Milton Keynes was led by Nigel Lane and Wayland Tunley. They dealt with sensitive infill schemes in Stony Stratford (Cofferidge Close) and did infill projects in tightly built railway town of Wolverton including the Agora.  (see Blog: Agora, Wolverton MK: February 19, 2010)

Galley Hill was one of the first large housing schemes completed in 1971-72. At this point the problems of overheated building industry became apparent. The required speed of building new houses was not available and to meet the requirements, simpler layouts were needed along with the introduction of industrialised methods of construction whenever possible.

The small groups of terraces forming the public spaces were treated in fairly homogeneous manner as far as use of colours and  finishes of horizontal boarding and design of doors and windows was concerned.

However, as happened in other places, the subsequent private ownership of a large number of houses ensured an introduction of patch work of varying colours and materials to display individuality of their new owners, weakening the architectural coherence originally envisaged.

The pitched roofs helped in many ways – disasters of leaking flat roofs of southern flank housing schemes were not experienced and roof scape also helped to unify the appearance.

The densities were low and compared to modern housing developments these Parker Morris standard houses and large open spaces look almost lavish.

Buckinghamshire County Council was responsible for designing and building schools in Milton Keynes and one of their gifted architects, Brian Andrews, worked closely  with MKDC planners to build a traditionally built school closely integrated with the roads and footpaths. There was some bold ‘arts and crafts’ inspired brick detailing and a friendly open layout. Unfortunately the subsequent vandalism has meant that fences and gates have denied easy access.

Greenleys housing is more formal, using car free courtyards  on either side of car parking areas or courtyards large enough to bring cars into attached garages and car parking spaces. These schemes were worked out and built fairly quickly. The warm coloured bricks and pitch roofs were also a far sighted decision for this period. Landscaping, as usual is of high standards unifying the whole scheme.

Buckinghamshire County Council built another traditional looking school here. Ivor Smith built the Local Centre with Community and Sports facilities at low level and housing above.

Both are shown in the photograph below.

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When one comes across the words Bangladesh and architecture, the image of monumental Louis Kahn’s building in Dacca immediately comes to mind. This little school by Anna Heringer of Austria and Eike Roswag of Germany which received the Aga Khan Award of Architecture in 2007 may not be able to reach such heights of poetic monumentality but may be able to impart a much richer legacy for the well-being of millions. The school was considered a model for future development of high design quality achieved with traditional local materials like bamboo, mud and even fabrics for Saris with the involvement of the community.

These words from the Jury of The Aga Khan Award for Architecture are worth quoting.

“This joyous and elegant two-storey primary school in rural Bangladesh
has emerged from a deep understanding of local materials and a
heart-felt connection to the local community. Its innovation lies in
the adaptation of traditional methods and materials of construction to
create light-filled celebratory spaces as well as informal spaces for
children. Earthbound materials such as loam and straw are combined
with lighter elements like bamboo sticks and nylon lashing to shape a
built form that addresses sustainability in construction in an
exemplary manner. The design solution may not be replicable in other
parts of the Islamic world, as local conditions vary, but the approach
– which allows new design solutions to emerge from an in-depth
knowledge of the local context and ways of building – clearly provides
a fresh and hopeful model for sustainable building globally. The final
result of this heroic volunteer effort is a building that creates
beautiful, meaningful and humane collective spaces for learning, so
enriching the lives of the children it serves.”

The architects describe the two- storey structure as being ‘hand-made by local craftsmen, pupils and teachers together with a European team of Architects, craftsmen and students.’

The ground floor is made of thick mud walls, with organically shaped cave-like spaces to the rear of each of three classrooms, while the upper floor is a porous, latticed space in bamboo.

The aim of the school project was to improve existing building techniques, maintaining sustainability by utilising local potential and strengthening regional identity. The architects note: ‘We are convinced that architecture means more than just satisfying a need for shelter, For us architecture and building is closely linked with the creation of identity and self-confidence. This is the basis for sustainable and forward-looking development.’

An excellent link from MoMa for this project

http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2010/smallscalebigchange/projects/meti_handmade_school

The contents and photos are attributed to AD of November/December 2007,with the title “Made in India”

Newport Comprehensive School Competition was won by Eldred Evans and David Shalev in 1968, Foster Associates, Brian Frost and Douglas Stephen & Partners were among the finalists. James Stirling was one of the judges.

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Extracts from winners report said that the building is organized around the house system in three tiers; lower school to the south; middle school; specialist teaching block and subject rooms to the north, running parallel to both. The halls and library/sixth form complexes terminate the system to east and west respectively.

The circulation was arranged in a gridiron pattern of movement throughout the school on two levels-covered and open walkways.

Covered east/west routes link all houses to one another and end in the library/hall complexes.

Covered north/south routes are for more frequent daily movements of pupils from bus dropping point to houses from form rooms to specialist teaching block. Open north/south route ends in outdoor teaching terraces.

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There were ten houses: upper school 4; lower school l4; sixth form1; staff1.

Each consisted of three south facing, flexible teaching area, an activity room adjoining two of the form bases and house dining room, all arranged around a protected courtyard into which they could extend.

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Although the house system was rigidly adhered to, architects considered that this would not inhibit different type of organization if required, as they thought that some form of identifiable grouping would always be required.

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* Above extracts and competition entry drawings abstracted from AJ of 24th January 1968.

Unfortunately, all these built in flexibilities did nothing to save the school from poor maintenance and deterioration and eventual premature destruction. An unloved and neglected building was almost hurriedly driven to death.

It was sad to see  intelligent educationalists themselves failing to see the folly they were committing by destroying this important building without any attempt to give it a new lease of life.

 

The organization, though much larger and complex, always reminded me of simplicity of Jacobson’s school at Munkegaardsl in Copenhagen (1952-56).

More photographs are available on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/iqbalaalam/sets/72157604618949581/

The new city started to display its first housing grids between Bletchley and Central Milton Keynes during early 70s. Some of the first housing developments and unfortunately some of the first casualties of badly built building fabrics and ’social’ problems due to wrong allocation policies and mass import of problem tenants from London and Birmingham slum areas also took place at this initial stage. IMGCoffeeHallalt Coffee Hall grid (along with Netherfield and Bean Hill) was one of the earliest grids to be developed. The layout was a refined exercise in organizing a highly ordered and disciplined grid in and around existing landscape features. One and two storey terraced houses to Parker Morris standards were provided in fair faced concrete walls with flat roofs at fairly low housing densities. IMGMKAerial08_0001alt Coffee Hall never recovered from a disastrous start with a reputation of a failed estate in almost all aspects. The original housing saw some immediate changes to cure leaks and condensation and the empty spaces left un-built around the rigid geometric grid were soon filled in by badly designed housing, which I find too painful to photograph to this day. IMGHouApr08_0004alt1 The housing was built to generous Parker Morris space standards but built during a shortage of reasonable building materials and tradesmen. Leaking roofs and condensation started  to plague the estate right from the day one. Note the retention of existing hedges. IMGDome08_OK26alt CoffeeHallAug09 023alt A loving tribute to Corbusier was offered by the MK architects but for obvious reasons Villas were not on offer. However a church was perfectly in order. Unfortunately even this little modest offering has  suffered by thoughtless additions. This remains one of the few buildings worth a visit in this area. White paint is now cream and the grass mound has been replaced by an unsightly curved roof building. OxfordDec08_0010alt MacCormac & Jamieson produced this noteworthy housing for single people in 1975-77, when this slide was taken.  Even in the present state of poor upkeep, the building sits on site comfortably and retains its poise to enhance a depressing area. CoffeeHallAug09 057alt CoffeeHallAug09 IMGCoffeeHall1altIMGoffeeHall2a The northern part of the grid was reserved and planned for Woughton Education Campus to house three secondary schools, a Roman Catholic school, school annexes, a sixth Form College and a joint use recreation centre. According to the Head teacher of the Campus,” Woughton ward is among the 10% most impoverished in the country and the catchment area is the most deprived in MK” Panorama 16CoffeeHallAc CoffeeHallAug09 052alt The odd juxtapositioning above illustrates a competition winning low cost private housing scheme by Andrew Sebire & Kit Allsop built in 1982 , described by them as architectural equivalent of the Citroen 2CV. CoffeeHallAug09 042alt No one  imagined that one day it will be pitched against the juggernaut of an Academy next door. The grassed area on left is surrounded by the school (1978) on one side,now to be demolished and  Woughton Centre housing Sports Hall, Performance Area and Swimming Pool (shown on left) acting as a community building. There was some modest housing planned on opposite extremities of the education campus to create some mixed use, but the temptation to fill the empty green fields with housing (and once again of terrible layout and design) proved too great and the resulting mess of excessive but lucrative housing, failing schools, (some now pending demolition) and building of a new Academy in a ‘left-over’ corner of now crowded site hardly shows planning anticipation and aptitude of caretaker town planners of this new city.

The gloomy picture painted here is an attempt to record some of the disasters and occasional successes, before the haze of time and eventual re-writing of the local history distorts the facts beyond recognition for the future generations.

The photograph above showing the wall painting in Woughton Leisure Centre is a work called ‘ Situation Comedy’ painted in 1981 by Boyd & Evans. This was their first commission in MK and was followed by many other. The name reflects the inclusion of some existing building features within the painting, such as stairs and projecting balcony. The blue handrail in photo has an extra bar added, it used to be red as shown in the painting.

For site layout and location of buildings shown above look here; http://www.flickr.com/photos/iqbalaalam/3846824764/ The original Local Community Centre here; http://www.flickr.com/photos/iqbalaalam/3196544440/in/set-72157604170762836/