Inspired by the unique history of Milton Keynes, the new MK Gallery is an iconic feature of the city skyline.
The project involved a refurbishment of the existing gallery and the addition of an extension, which more than doubled the building size. Funded by the Arts Council and donations, the building now comprises five exhibition spaces totalling 500m2, a learning and community studio and a new 150-seat auditorium. A cafe has been formed from a back of house space.
Max Fordham provided M&E Engineering and Acoustics consultancy to Stage 3, and were subsequently retained client-side from Stage 4 onwards to provide an M&E monitoring role.
The existing building had aging M&E services and the client wanted a building that was easier to use and less costly to run. The client brief also called for the provision of conditioning to Government Indemnity Scheme (GIS) environmental standards, to allow them to loan artworks for exhibitions.
Our environmental design strategy initially focused on improving the building fabric performance; new windows were added and existing building fabric was upgraded or replaced, where the budget allowed. Natural ventilation was then employed (where feasible) via openable windows, actuated panels and, in the cafe, a large, red roof-mounted turret. The natural ventilation strategy both reduces energy consumption and provides a better sense of connection to the outside.
In the gallery spaces, new air conditioning plant with humidity control was provided to bring conditions up to GIS standards.
"The original galleries have been rationalised, enhanced and extended to create an exceptional sequence of new exhibition spaces. State-of-the-art environmental and security conditions mean the gallery can now bring the most vulnerable and valuable artefacts to the city." - Anthony Spira, director, MK Gallery
The multi-purpose auditorium provides the city’s first home for independent cinema (with Curzon) and is also capable of hosting music, dance and theatre (a programme of National Theatre Live shows is proposed). Comfort cooling has been provided within this space. The auditorium is unusual in that it has large areas of glazing, which provides a good level of daylighting.
The auditorium and education spaces will be used intermittently by a wide range of different user groups, we therefore selected fast-response heating systems with local controls so that systems can be turned down or off by users when they are not required.
Extensive metering systems have been provided across all systems so that energy use can be monitored. This allows the client to fine tune the controls and optimise energy usage.
"These beautifully conceived new spaces provide a radical contrast to the chain hotels, restaurants, cafés and pubs that currently populate the city." - Anthony Spira, director, MK Gallery