MK40 tower | icon 052 | October 2007

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words Beatrice Galilee

“It’s a bit like Holland,” says dRMM partner Alex de Rijke, surveying the view from the MK40 tower overlooking Milton Keynes.

The 19m wooden tower was designed by London-based practice dRMM to mark the 40th anniversary of the city (see page 36). “I’d never been here before, but it’s really quite nice,” says de Rijke.

The tower was built in around three weeks outside the bright
pink walls of Milton Keynes Gallery. It has 101 steps, with a spiral staircase leading to a mid-way viewing point and a further exterior staircase leading to the top. Despite its height the tower is freestanding, supported by a tripartite base that allows it to
be dismantled and rebuilt at any point during the celebrations of the city.

The use of wood, in this instance the same renewable cross-laminated timber used in much of the practice’s work, could be considered a surprising choice to celebrate this notoriously concrete city of roundabouts and shopping malls. Not so, says de Rijke: “It was against the flat, relentless monotony of concrete and glass. There should be more fun in architecture, more follies, more things that are temporary and not taking themselves too seriously.”

The MK40 tower will be open until 28 October.

images Christobal Palma

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