MK Gallery

Looking for Milton Keynes

In this video, City Club lead artist Gareth Jones takes a tour through the unbuilt visionary architecture of Milton Keynes, as depicted in the 1970s by legendary architectural renderer Helmut Jacoby.

Milton Keynes remains the most ambitious social project of its kind in the UK, the last of the post-war new towns and the only one that had the chutzpah to call itself a city. The original plan was to build nothing less than an ideal living environment for 250,000 people on a large part of North Buckinghamshire, a utopian vision improbably sited in England’s green and pleasant land.

Under the guidance of its maverick founding figures, Milton Keynes didn’t just aim to be big. It was audacious too, employing the latest ideas in town planning, architecture, social development, landscaping, education, design and art. The city is famously built on a grid plan of roads that become progressively straighter and more urban as you approach the central area, culminating in a city centre that is unique in England for its embrace of modernist design principles.

Less famously, it aimed to be a city greener than the surrounding countryside, and pioneer residents were greeted with a voucher that entitled them to a free tree. The city’s numerous parks, lovingly maintained for future generations by an independent trust, are today one of its many success stories.

Looking for Milton Keynes was commissioned by The Open University to coincide with Gareth Jones' solo exhibition at MK Gallery in 2011