the built the unbuilt the unbuildable – open call



Commissioned by Milton Keynes Council

as part of A Festival of Creative Urban Living




The Jury:

Benjamin Foerster-Baldenius and Jan Liesegang (raumlaborberlin),

Will Cousins, Design Director,

David Lock Associates,

Caroline Devine, Artist,

Susanne Tutsch, Erect Architects,

Simon Wright, Curator, Public Programmes, MK Gallery

Ursula White, Creative Producer

Nick Green, On/Off Architects

Fiona Boundy, Curator and Creative and Cultural Manager at MKC



download open call

In Autumn 2019, Milton Keynes will experience the inaugural ‘A Festival of Creative Urban Living’ – a new biennial art, design and architecture festival for the city.

Commissioned by Milton Keynes Council, the first edition will be developed, shaped and co-curated by raumlaborberlin.


The inaugural Festival of Creative Urban Living will launch on 26 September and run till 13 October 2019. It is titled „the built, the unbuilt and the unbuildable“. Through a free, public programme of new commissions, exhibitions, conferences and associated programmes, the Festival will ask and explore the question ‘how do we live well in cities – now and in the future?’ Within this macro exploration, the Festival will attempt to address the micro – with a critical revision of MK’s urban planning ideals, opening up debate and discussion concerning the founding design principles of the city, and their relevance or insignificance to the 21st Century.


Milton Keynes is one of UK’s most prominent examples of the “New Towns Movement” of the 60’s. It is the largest of the UK New Towns and arguably the most successful. In contrast to many other New Towns, MK has inherited many aspects of Ebenezer Howard’s “Garden City” movement; it is very green, combining extensive tree-lined boulevards and vistas with modernist architecture, urban spaces and a radically segregated traffic system.



The Festival will be housed in a series of temporary structures, located on Midsummer Boulevard East – the central spine of MK’s infamous grid road system. These new ‘spaces’ will provide a hub and a visual focal point for the Festival. The location and a planned regeneration of Midsummer Boulevard East will also provide an opportunity to engage Milton Keynes’ citizens and wider audiences in creating prospective plans for the future of the city-centre and re-designing the public realm. raumlaborberlin is working on a multidisciplinary event and will be working with local associations, organisations and community groups to explore MK’s current urban reality and the city’s future prospects. This will include Beds United, a localised air bnb connecting locals and visitors with the vast suburbs of MK, a Utopia Station and a Bike School.






To complete the program raumlaborberlin launched the Crossroads Open Call from 25.03.-24.4.2019 to commission three public art projects which will accompany the festival under the categories of ‚the built‘, ‚the unbuilt‘ and ‚the unbuildable‘.

And the response was breathtaking. Together the Jury looked at 101 proposals from visual artists, architects, designers, creative practices, musicians, urban planners, gardeners…. So many professions, many interdisciplinary and international groups and collectives who submitted an array of craziest constructions, mobile units, programmes, processes and visions! 

It was impossible to select just 3 proposals. How to limit ourselves to only 3 proposals which asked the right questions and added a new quality to the Festival, whilst also offering a surprise to Milton Keynes; inviting citizens to think about the future and become part of a collective creative process? So the jury chose 6 projects, which it thinks should be realized within the Festival of Creative Urban Living this year. Although only 3 of them can be commissioned at this point, the Jury advised the organisers to see if it were possible to realise the remaining 3 projects.


We are very happy to announce the three winning projects that will be commissioned as part of A Festival of Creative Urban Living:


Category: The Built

The Utopian Laundromat by La Bonneterie (FR) Pascal Lazarus, Amandine Lamour, Benjamin Blacken, Auguste Paillard, Florine Cruel, Alex Lambert, Mirant Jane Wall


An installation in human scale which proposes a different way to wash, dry, and recycle water. The masterpiece is a mechanism of 3 connected watersheds. The water runs from the clean to the dirty, from the top to the bottom. The laundry moves in the opposite direction, from bottom to top, immersed in the different watersheds. Next the water is filtered and stored in an adjacent tank. Then, the mechanism starts again: the stored water passes through a solar boiler and then back into the watersheds. The left-over and grey water runs into a natural pool with a weeping willow.

In the middle of this revolutionary mechanical system is a pub, a common space, a soft detergent workshop, a filters research space, an open-mic scene, a workshop on transforming the weeping willow ( “Salix Babylonica” can be used as headache medicine). It is a place for us all to combine business with pleasure. It harmonizes the needs of nature with the needs of being human.


Jury’s notes: Introducing the rituals of washing, bathing culture and laundry and connecting there to the interconnectivity of our everyday lives was perceived by all Jury members as a great idea. 

The drawings of the complex machine run by a very colourful group of artists, performers, cooks and sculptors from France expressed a very lively place in the centre of MK – a place that MK´s public realm is missing at the moment. The Jury also like the idea of a permanent laboratory of everyday culture of communication, which combines the embodied and the site specific with the situated and academic. The Jury was also happy that the artists themselves would take the responsibility to animate the machine they will build. (a question many of the other proposals did not answer was: who will be there to moderate the social interaction.)



Category: The Unbuilt

Where do we go from here? by No Purpose collective (NL/IT/GB/South Korea) Jack Bardrell, Heejung Kim and Daniele Valentino


The Boulevard Broadcast is a mobile radio station that has the unique ability to pick up signals from the future and broadcast to the present. As it cycles up and down the boulevard, the antenna structure swaying in the air, the radio will host workshops with different communities to create actional narratives about future living in Milton Keynes. These stories will be broadcast in a daily radio show. At the end of the festival we propose a parade, a moment in which these actions can be lived out in reality.


Jury’s notes: The idea of a radio station that connects MK’s housing estates with the centre, the neighbourhoods with the Festival, the people and the ideas persuaded the Jury to make this proposal the winner of the category the unbuilt. To create a working social interaction between the different housing estates of Milton Keynes is probably one of the biggest challenges that the city faces.

A mobile radio station informing people what other people think and do seems a great idea to be tried out. The young group of designers from England, Italy and South Korea will collect information and broadcast it themselves for the time of the Festival, with a machine mounted onto a transport bike. They will be moving around MK, meeting people, interviewing, telling stories and through this action will make the Festival more prominent and closer to home.



Category: The Unbuildable

Good morning Milton Keynes! Oh…. it’s afternoon by Spreafico Eckly with Matteo Fargion (IT/NO)


Jury’s notes: The idea is to have a local brass band (or several) playing every afternoon during the Festival at the same time but in a different location around central Milton Keynes. They will play a musical piece exclusively composed for MK and the Festival. After each concert the theme of the day will be announced.

This proposal stood out from all the other projects for a number of reasons:  It is totally non material and installs a new ritual for the city of Milton Keynes, and uses the public space as an open stage. The project in this sense connects time and space in a very effortless way. It is new and original and yet works with a very traditional and locally rooted media. By inviting local bands to perform the daily piece, the project also becomes rooted into local communities. The theme of the day will raise key questions of the Festival’s content in very humorous ways and will amplify these into the everyday world of MK’s public life. Slightly surreal moments of encounter with music and poetry create a great contrast to the highly rational grid of central MK and will encourage a pause to question our ever-accelerated and digitised everyday routines.



The three runners up are:



Category: The Built

Peddle up Pneumatics by Gordon Yip + Enoch Liang (GB/China)


Peddle up Pneumatics is a temporary pavilion which eludes static conventions. Standing at 5-6 meters tall, the yellow puppet starts off as a peddle-up pneumatic which cycles along the boulevard and possibly around a few blocks as a conglomerate of 18 participants. Circling back to Midsummer Boulevard East afer its parade the cluster breaks out, each element rolling freely on three wheels, much like a reversed tricycle. The yellow canopies inflate, stretching over 20 meters and now that the participants are protected from the roaring summer sun, a series of events take over the space.

Some participants might notice that a few inflatables are still saggy, and the observant ones could spot the yellow tubes which drool down and attach to the back of peddling wheels. Someone sits down, starts peddling, very soon the canopy grows even further and pushes into the surrounding trees.


Jury’s notes: A playful, fantastical and spectacular performative sculpture, animating the city through a collective, bike-powered action. MK and raumlaborberlin are known for their inflatables and the Jury welcomed the familiarity but also enjoyed this innovative and entirely new approach to using this medium.



Category: The Unbuilt

The Flyover Arms – a very public House by Team Tango (various countries) Iris Andreas, Sam Stalker, Han Li


The Flyover Arms is a very public house offering a multitude of social engagements through one piece of garden furniture. The timber structure loops over the Midsummer Boulevard East in Milton Keynes, sweeping in height and width to create spaces for eating, drinking, performing, sunbathing or playing, all defined by the occupants present.


The Jury enjoyed the purity and bravery of this proposal. This simple, circular intervention into the strict grid road system of MK that offered up a platform, a roof, a walkway…. It construction from wood in a sea of concrete was also very welcome, along with its playful and tongue-in-cheek title.



Category: The Unbuildable


Library of Structures by Invisible Playground + 72 hours urban action (D/Israel/Turkey) Jennifer Aksu, Kerem Halbrecht, Anna Hentschel and Sebastian Quack


Some things cannot be built. Like joy. Like tearing something down that took really long to built. Destruction can be fascinating because the time consuming efforts of planning, building, working hard on the best of all solutions are rendered obsolete – in the blink of an eye. Building materials are 72 wooden one-meter-long sticks and 72 perforated plastic balls the size of a golf ball. Construction happens when a stick is connected to a ball and to another stick and to another ball and so on and so forth.

At the end of each festival day there will be a participatory unbuilding ceremony performed by a team of volunteers. They will think of the most beautiful performance to take down the structures built by the building teams.


The Jury discussed this proposal and length and felt that it was important to find a way to integrate this empowering approach to self-building into the Festival. To build a structure and then destroy a structure; to enjoy the challenge of deciding what to build and working together to build it was a very special quality to include.



There were also 12 special mentions that the jury thought were great ideas, which will hopefully be realized in another time and place.



Junction by Andrea Visotschnig, Cosima Terrasse, Veronika Hackl (A/FR)

Jury’s comment: We discussed this proposal for a long time. Indeed it would have been a great sight to see 50 cars from Milton Keynes to become part of our Festival campus – see them being used as a collective sound system, sofa, garden etc. To embrace the car drivers is also one of our goals. But.

But we have decided that the only way Milton Keynes can contribute to our contemporary challenges is by getting rid of the CO2 producing traffic. Letting the car become a main factor of attraction in this Festival would just be a hint in the wrong direction..

The Unbuildable Ghost by About. Design Ltd.,Hugo Gallucci, Jack Ingham, Chris Johnson (UK)

Jury’s comment: A truly inspired proposal redefining the public realm through an intangible, magical intervention. Enabling utopia to fleetingly exist, but remain untouchable.

A Woman Cave for Milton Keynes by Chloé Macary-Carney (FR)

Jury’s comment: Spaces are gendered, the role of design, the balance of power – this strong proposal evoked strong debate amongst Jury members.

MK Fun Palace by Lucas Facer (UK)

Jury’s comment: An excellent and well considered proposal which in the time honoured tradition of Cedric Price and Guy Debord, transforming Midsummer Boulevard into a landscape of play, through various subversive architectural interventions.

The Point Café by OEB architects: Tessa Baird, David Eland (GB)

Jury’s comment: A proposal to ‘un-build’ The Point – MK’s famous, soon to be demolished cultural icon and then re-shape, re-scale and re-purpose its ziggurat form into a new social/performance space was an idea that captured the imagination of the Jury andprovoked much debate.

Advanced Roundabout Unit by Nida Ekenel, Ekin Eryilmaz (TR)

Jury’s comment: Drawing on MK’s unique and famous infrastructure (roundabouts!), this proposal encouraged enhanced social interaction and playful occupation of the city’s grid – through a portable, communal, playful bike sculpture. 

Non Place by Life is Hot – Lucas Schmidt, Laura Baumann, Malte Sonnenschein,Stefan Gottwill, Sven Rose (D)

Jury’s comment: An original and innovative proposal which focuses on the world of plants and the vast array of green spaces in MK. Non-Place explores the personality of plants and how they respond to where they live – offering an entirely new horticultural portrait of the city.

The future of a city is not for us, it is for them

by Erik Goengrich and Gary Hurst (D/GB/FR…)

Jury’s comment: An exceptional proposal that offers a platform and voice for future generations to shape and inform thinking around city and urban planning.

Table: Town by Ideal X, Antje Steinmuller,Chris Falliers (USA)

Jury’s comment: Conceived as a singular civic form occupying MK’s Redway network, offering a shared space for communal eating, gathering, story-telling, sharing memories, performing… Table: Town was a strong contender and an excellent proposal.

Dreamland Pier by Studio RLLD, Rosalie Laurin, Laurent Dubois (D/FR)

Jury’s comment: The transformation of Midsummer Boulevard into a quintessential seaside pier and MK into a holiday destination was considered to be a brilliant idea by the Jury – but we had a few concerns about how idea would be understood by our audiences.

Let me Bike your Car by Julien Fargetton (FR)

Jurys comment: Playful, irreverent and very Milton Keynes – this proposal made a strong statement about the primacy of the car in the city and the need to re-think its dominance.

Decomposition of a Street by Jenny Ohlenschlager (D)

Jury’s comment: Forceful, political and provocative, Decomposition of a Street included an interactive performance work, where Midsummer Boulevard would be ‘cracked open’ with jackhammers – making a clear statement advocating for the primacy of the pedestrian over the car.