Arcadis appointed to take forward proposed groundbreaking newn university in Milton Keynes

Arcadis appointed to take forward proposed groundbreaking newn university in Milton Keynes

Arcadis has been appointed by Cranfield University to lead the masterplanning and delivery of a new proposed university quarter in the heart of Milton Keynes; the largest urban area in the UK not to have its own dedicated residential university. MK:U is being planned by Cranfield University and Milton Keynes Council as a new model university, with its location at the heart of the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc promising to be a game changer not only for the entire region, but a national asset providing skills for emerging technology industries. 

Following an International Design Competition, run by Malcolm Reading Consultants on behalf of Milton Keynes Council, Arcadis will be providing full project management services for the scheme. The first phase of the planned development will create the heart of the campus with circa. 61,000 sq m of space comprising a forum with lecture theatre and exhibition space. This will be the central heart to the ‘staff work and study hub’ and teaching spaces. The scheme will also include 1,000 student residences and a 100-bed conference centre, alongside sports and campus facilities, public realm and new green spaces, as well as enhanced connectivity to the wider city.

MK:U has been designed to meet urgent technological skills gaps and will offer courses including digital skills, cyber security, autonomy, robotics and artificial intelligence. It will offer new ways of learning, with close integration and alignment with local and national businesses to create career paths and development opportunities that meet a growing digital agenda. In line with Milton Keynes’ wider Smart City ambitions, the planned university is described as a ‘living laboratory’ where solutions to real world problems – from the challenges of urbanisation to future mobility – will be solved and scaled. 

Mel Manku, Science and Education Sector Lead at Arcadis, said:

“MK:U is a unique opportunity to create a new digitally enabled and adaptable campus which will disrupt the higher education operating model. Not only will it offer flexibility to students but, through engagement with the local community, will have a critical impact on the economy helping to cement the Arc’s position as the UK’s preeminent knowledge-intensive cluster. Working with industry employers to develop programmes to reflect the requirements for the workforce of the future, capitalising and responding to the emerging digital skills and Smart City agenda all set MK:U apart.”

Professor Lynette Ryals OBE, Chief Executive of MK:U and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, added:

“MK:U is an integral part of Milton Keynes’ vision for a hugely ambitious and forward-thinking future. A new university will have a major impact on the city. Alongside its educational offering, designed and co-created with business, it will bring a new vibrant community to Milton Keynes.

“We believe MK:U  will be an economic asset to the whole of the UK; a digital and tech showcase based in Milton Keynes creating the graduates that businesses say they desperately need and addressing the national and international skills shortages in fast-growing new technologies and industries. We look forward to working with Arcadis to make these ambitious and transformative proposals a reality.”

The proposed new university quarter is planned to open in 2023 and cater for up to 5,000 new students.


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