After years of debate and several stabs at the drawing board bosses at retail giant Hammerson must be praying for MK Council to approve the final designs for the new Point later this week (7 March 2019).
Since 2012, Xplain has been asking the architects to produce a distinctive, classy design that reflects the Modernist setting of MK.
Have they succeeded? We could always ask for more, but certainly this is a great improvement on earlier designs, including the ‘exploding Toblerone’ pictured below.
The architects explain that the ground and first retail floors provide a podium which the leisure box sits upon. The facades were “influenced by the natural rhythm created by pleached trees. The linear order of the trunks is replicated in the retail podium, with the more flowing [order] becoming the leisure box and roof terrace wrap.”Design and Access statement
This is not as fanciful as it sounds. Milton Keynes is also known as a City of Trees, and if you squint your eyes, you might just imagine the dramatic pillars on the main facade as the tall trees holding outstretched arms.
Notable features of the latest designs include:
- Rhythmic facades inspired by the MK grid, in grey and bronze metallic materials
- Proper colonnades, instead of useless canopies, which provide weather protection and are a distinctive feature of CMK
- A landscaped roof-garden which will be one of the first to offer public views over MK
- The ability to project digital artwork on the new facades
Xplain first suggested a roof garden at our very first meeting with Hammerson seven years ago. If built, it will be the first place where people can enjoy rooftop views over MK, hopefully along with some live music.
But even if approved on Thursday night, will Hammerson’s grand ‘Piano’ ever be built?
The company recently announced losses of £266m and, given the state of the retail and leisure market, the BBC reports further asset sales to ease debts. Could this prime site, in a relatively strong retail destination, be added to the list?