Milton Keynes Arts Centre

In 2012 we started working with Milton Keynes Arts Centre to develop an ambitious masterplan for the organisation’s large rural site. It was clear the plan needed to evolve over a series of phases. The first of these was to convert a listed thatched barn, on a minimal budget, to form a gallery and cafe, enabling a significantly improved exhibition programme and more ambitious fundraising events. The interior walls of the building could not be painted or plastered, so we designed a freestanding timber-framed cork display system which leaves the stonework visible. Working with the centre’s wood turners to complete the project meant the building displayed the skills the centre is known for.

“With a focus on heritage craft, design and the visual arts, Milton Keynes Arts Centre provides a platform for the public to work together and learn together, actively demonstrating the potential of creativity to change lives. We chose to work with Manalo & White because they understood our users and the sensitivity of our listed and historic buildings. Involved from the start in our push to increase participation and attract a wider audience, they have developed a master plan to support our goals. The first phase, to create a new gallery space on a very tight budget, has been extremely successful in raising the profile of the Arts Centre both locally and nationally.”

MKAC Director

We’re currently carrying out a feasibility study for the second phase of works; the delivery of a new building to house craft workshops including ceramics and silversmith’s studios, gallery spaces, a cafe and a visitor’s centre. The conversion of an historic canalside schoolhouse and almshouses will provide new studios and an artist’s residence. Other works will improve the Centre’s relationship with the surrounding parkland, church, and canal.

Photography by Morgan O’Donovan and Adrien Fouéré