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Programme announced for the inaugural A Festival of Creative Urban Living

Date Posted:28/08/2019

Milton Keynes Council today, 16 August announces the programme of the inaugural ‘A Festival of Creative Urban Living’ taking place from 26 September to 13 October. The new biennial festival, a free and playful celebration of art, architecture and city-making, has been developed and co-curated by award-winning experimental architectural practice, raumlaborberlin.

A Festival of Creative Urban Living brings together the worlds of art, architecture, design, and high-tech within the urban context of Milton Keynes. The free programme includes exhibitions, events, creative workshops, performances and much more covering the festival themes of ‘Built, Unbuilt and Unbuildable’.

Milton Keynes is one of UK’s most prominent examples of the “New Towns Movement” of the 1960s. 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 from the “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. MK also has a unique composite identity, through the integration of existing towns and villages into the overall New Town design.

The Festival will be situated on Midsummer Boulevard East in MK’s city centre which will form part of the Festival ‘campus’. This new ‘campus’ will provide a hub and a visual focal point for the Festival, hosting a range of free inspiring events, debates and performances. Throughout the three-week festival, visitors will be able to experience an overnight stay with a MK resident; take part in discussions on radicalism and the built environment; combine business with
pleasure at the utopian laundromat and take in the sights at the top of a temporary museum of the future of urbanism.

Festival Programme highlights:

Utopia Station by Teleinternetcafe (above)
At the heart of the Festival ‘campus’ sits Utopia Station – a triumphant, colourful tower, with far-reaching views across MK. Inside this remarkable temporary structure, Teleinternetcafe – a team of architects, urban planners and critical thinkers have developed a quasi-scientific, speculative experience, where a
participatory, playful process draws out utopian visions and thinking from all of us. Responding to an open call and curated by raumlabour, three commissions, selected from over 120 submissions, covering the festival themes will be situated on Midsummer Boulevard East as part of the
Festival ‘campus’.

Good Morning Milton Keynes! Oh… It’s Afternoon! by Spreafico Eckley with Matteo Fargion
A new composition for Milton Keynes will be played out in different locations within the Festival campus and along Midsummer Boulevard, in a unique collaboration between composers Spreafico Eckley and Matteo Fargion, and the brass bands of MK.

The Boulevard Broadcast by No Purpose Collective
The Boulevard Broadcast is a mobile radio station with the unique ability to pick up signals from the future and broadcast to the present. As it cycles up and down Midsummer Boulevard, its antenna aerial swaying in the air, the radio will host workshops with different communities to explore and uncover
fictional narratives about future living in Milton Keynes. These stories will be broadcast in a daily radio show.

Utopian Laundromat by La Bonneterie
An installation on a human scale which proposes a different way to wash, dry and recycle water. The masterpiece of this mechanism is three connected watersheds – the water runs from clean to dirty, from the bottom to the top – immersed in the different watersheds. In the middle of this revolutionary mechanical system is a common space, a soft detergent workshop, a filters research space and open-mic scene. Utopian Laundromat is a place to combine business with pleasure, harmonizing the needs of nature with the needs of being human.

Beds United
MK’s unique layout, with many residential areas behind trees and green spaces, means some visitors wonder where people live. Beds United is a way for visitors and festival guests (and local people) to find out. The Festival organisers are looking for people to would like to host an overnight guest – whetherthat’s someone visiting for the Festival or who already lives in a different part of MK. They hope to find at least one host for every neighbourhood.

Bike School
raumlaborberlin thinks that MK is the perfect bike city, with its Redway network allowing cyclists to cross MK at speed and in safety. To encourage greater usage, raumlaborberlin has developed ‘Bike School’ as a celebration of all things bike, with guided architecture and public art tours, an Electric Pedals
Cycle-In-Cinema and a Cultural Climate Action discussion.

The Meeting Place
The Meeting Place offers everyone a place to sit, commune, and take part in a free programme of music, films, performances, talks, workshops, demonstrations, classes and discussions. There’ll be dance lessons provided by Romeo Dance Academy, performances of a hand-bell ringing collective; a pop-up Syrian kitchen; Faith Dimensions Gospel Choir; sketchbook drawing classes; MK Myths storytelling sessions and Kathak dance workshops.

Programme highlights in The Meeting Place include Utopian Radicalism, a day-long discussion with collaborators the International New Town Institute that will bring together examples of inspiring and provocative city-making projects – mostly from New Towns across the globe, which have been designed and realised by residents. Bauhaus Now, a discussion and workshop with Chris Murray from Core Cities and Charles Landry, one of the foremost thinkers and writers on the future of cities, asking what would the Bauhaus be doing now to improve cities and the lives of so many people that live in them.

Show Me! Don’t Tell Me!, a workshop and panel discussion programmed by raumlaborberlin which looks at recent art and cultural projects from across the globe that have promoted a Show Me! Don’t Tell Me! approach to delivering positive social and civic change, working hand and hand with communities. MK Rock Chorus Performance will perform a special concert of favourite songs for everyone to enjoy. Ravioli Me Away, a music and performance group who will perform a selection of their greatest hits. Amassment and Build – (One Brick at a Time) workshop by artist Sarah Wright held over 18 days of the Festival will
create a new sculptural public artwork. Pecha Kucha with Studio Chehade – How do you solve a problem like Milton Keynes? talk aims to generate ideas for positive change built on the existing successes of the town whilst also addressing its issues.

Full programme available here:

A Festival for Creative Urban Living has been commissioned by MK Council, funded by Arts Council England, and is programmed and curated by experimental architectural practice raumlaborberlin. Taking a steer from MK’s City Fest and harnessing the curatorial ambitions of Different by Design, the city’s bid to become European Capital of Culture 2023, A Festival of Creative Urban Living will offer a new experimental cultural experience for citizens and visitors alike.