6a Architects’ MK Gallery design inspired by modern heritage of British town Milton Keynes

6a architects’ expansion of MK Gallery is revealed with a new design inspired by the modern heritage of Milton Keynes
6a architects’ expansion of MK Gallery is revealed with a new design inspired by the modern heritage of Milton Keynes
(Image credit: 6a Architects)

London-based 6a architects has launched the design for MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, UK. The architects, who worked in close collaboration with artists Gareth Jones and Nils Norman on the project, have created a playful extension to the existing building inspired by the modernist heritage of the town.

The geometric polished stainless-steel exterior façade of the gallery is influenced by the progressive urban design of Milton Keynes, built on a grid in the 1970s, and the rhythmic landscaping of the adjacent Campbell park. Interior elements designed by Jones and Norman are also inspired by the town’s infrastructure, planting schemes, public art and playgrounds.

The new entrance designed by Jones and Norman for MK Gallery

(Image credit: Jones and Norman)

The new entrance designed by Jones and Norman revives the original sandstone and terracotta architecture of the old gallery entry, yet brings a contemporary edge with the addition of a neon heart and double-headed axe, referencing the logotype designed for the town at its birth.

Located at the apex of ‘Midsummer Boulevard’, in the centre of the town, MK Gallery opened its doors in 1999 and has provided the community with a venue for artistic activities, yet the new multidisciplinary hub takes this activity to a new level with dedicated space for exhibitions of contemporary and historic art, films, music, performance and workshops – all designed with an emphasis on community engagement.

The gallery rises to international ‘kunsthalle’ standards with five double-height exhibition galleries extending up to nine metres in height, while the ‘Sky Room’ provides a flexible auditorium for 300 people. As customary of every British institution today, there is also a new independent café and shop, looking onto a new garden space encouraging social interactions and local economy.

The auditorium

The auditorium

(Image credit: 6a Architects)

The opening exhibition ‘The Lie of the Land’ looks at leisure in the context of public space and land ownership bringing together work by 85 artists, curated by Anthony Spira, MK gallery director, along with a group of creative minds; Sam Jacob, Claire Louise Staunton, Fay Blanchard, Tom Emerson, Gareth Jones and Niall Hobhouse. There will be artworks commissioned for the public spaces surrounding the MK Gallery.

‘In the spirit that created Milton Keynes, the new MK Gallery, on its 20th anniversary, aims to reinvent the idea of the art centre for our own time. Both radical and inviting, serious and playful, it is fully accessible and the kind of building where I hope everyone will feel welcome,’ says Spira. 

‘In the spirit that created Milton Keynes, the new MK Gallery, on its 20th anniversary

(Image credit: 6a Architects)

MK Gallery reopens on 16 March 2019. For more information, visit the 6a website and the MK Gallery website


MK Gallery
900 Midsummer Blvd
Milton Keynes


Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.