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Victoria House
Milton Keynes, UK

Simple gridded facade reflecting the town's design heritage

Victoria House is a major new office development in the rapidly expanding new town of Milton Keynes. The development represents one of the largest commercial investments in the area for several years.

Milton Keynes is famous for its wide boulevards and modernist architecture, and within this setting, Victoria House occupies a prominent site in the business district, approximately 400m north-east of Milton Keynes Railway Station.

Following the building line and plot boundaries established by CMK guidelines, the architecture takes the form of an elegant, well-mannered four-storey brick pavilion, with a recessed fourth floor ‘attic’.

The building is conceived as two symmetrical wings, abutting a full height central recessed glazed entrance. This aligns with the Porte-Cochere sitting opposite whose minimal, pared-back steel structure informs the design and materiality of the solar shading treatment that dresses Victoria House’s entrance elevation.

This comprises a series of horizontal colour coated aluminium louvres, a configuration that is also used to articulate the continuous louvred skin at roof level, which conceals the external plant compounds and internal plant rooms, as well as creating a dynamic visual counterbalance to the building’s striking neo-classical fenestration.

Each of the building’s wings is constructed from high quality buff- multi -facing brick, which is both sensitive to its context and visually striking. This is combined with precast concrete string courses and ground floor colonnade to articulate a regular and simple grid configuration, which generates a strong horizontal accent across the building.

To the south, east and west elevations, the brickwork is chamfered, creating a deep reveal to each of the windows. This helps to shade the floor-plates and minimise the internal heat gains, all of which is vital in the building meeting its BREEAM excellent accreditation.. In addition, en masse, the chamfers animate the facades with a subtle interplay of light and shadow, thereby enriching the building’s architectural narrative and place-making credentials.

On the principal elevation, the third floor of each wing extends to form a parapet to the fourth floor roof terrace, subtly articulating a capital to each wing, which, in turn, introduces a vertical accent to each wing, counterpointing the building’s horizontality.

Exterior view showing colonnade at Victoria House, Milton Keynes

Save for minor variations, the upper floor plates repeat through the first, second and third floors, with the highly glazed fourth floor ‘set back’ by 4.5m to provide a continuous roof terrace, while reducing the building’s visual mass when viewed from Avebury Boulevard.

At ground level a 3m deep arcade extends the pedestrian route established by 101-299 Averbury Boulevard. The arcade, defined by a pre-cast concrete colonnade at 3m centres, reflects the building’s structural grid and appropriately grounds the substantial brick elevation above.

The building’s central entrance with double height atrium is recessed to the depth of the ground floor arcade, so emphasizing the point of arrival. The primary core (lifts, staircase and sanitary accommodation) is centrally located behind the reception, with two further secondary escape stairs to the north-west and north-east corners providing the flexibility to ‘let’ the building on a wing by wing basis.

The west wing accommodates a flexible office/retail/café and restaurant unit with 7 undercroft car parking spaces to the rear. The East wing accommodates 10 secure undercroft car parking spaces separated from the arcade with a full height powder-coated metal grille system and secured by a roller shutter. To the East side and rear elevation are sundry service rooms, refuse and cycle stores.

In summary, Victoria House blends commercial viability with architectural integrity. The scheme successfully meets all the client’s spatial, environmental and logistical demands, while respecting CMK’s exacting urban design requirements as stipulated in their Development Framework, a publication which admirably upholds and celebrates CMK’s genius loci.

Concrete colonnade at Victoria House, Milton Keynes

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