Station House is home to Milton Keynes Central train station, as well as retail at ground-floor level with four storeys of office accommodation above. Originally designed by Christopher Woodward in the heart of the town’s 1970s masterplan, the building is characterised by its simple plan form, linearity and rigorous façades of mirrored glass.

Scapolan Burney Architects was commissioned to strip back and transform the upper floors of narrow former office accommodation into 200 flats for client Gold Wynn.

The practice developed layouts to expose and celebrate the existing structure, which included floorplates spanning 159m with columns at 9m intervals and curtain wall mullions at 1.5m centres.

Instead of concealing the large concrete columns and beams, plaster has been removed and the concrete sandblasted, framing them in the apartment layouts to align with the rhythm of the curtain wall façade.

Services have been housed above ceilings in non-habitable voids, maximising ceiling heights and unveiling the existing ribbed concrete soffits in all living and bedroom spaces, which now boast ceiling heights exceeding 3m. Sliding pocket doors visually break the new grid of partitions.

Scapolan Burney received planning in August for phase 2 of the project, which involves a two-storey rooftop extension to create a further 64 homes and a roof garden. The project is expected to start on site early next year.

Architect’s view

This retrofit project began with a soft strip-out of a 1980s Modernist office building, revealing hidden architectural elements concealed beneath banal office interiors of raised floors and false ceilings. This exercise led to a design process which sought to celebrate the structure discovered and give the building a new lease of life.

Inheriting floor plates spanning 159m, with columns at 9m intervals and curtain wall mullions at 1.5m centres, we carefully developed the layouts and detailed design to expose and showcase the existing structure. Instead of concealing the large cast concrete columns and beams, we chose to reveal their raw beauty by removing plaster, sandblasting them, and framing them within the new apartment layouts, aligning with the rhythm of the curtain wall façade.

The co-ordination of services was a meticulous process, ensuring they were discreetly housed above ceilings in non-habitable spaces, maximising ceiling heights and unveiling the ribbed concrete soffits in all living and bedroom spaces, which enjoy generous ceiling heights exceeding 3m. The introduction of sliding pocket doors wherever possible served to visually break the new grid of partitions, allowing residents to appreciate the linear character of the curtain wall glazing.

The completed project celebrates the original structure and quietly transforms a landmark Modernist office building into 200 homes in the heart of Milton Keynes.
Rick Burney, director, Scapolan Burney Architects

Phase 2 visualisation

Phase 2 rooftop extension

Situated above a prominent and occupied mixed-use building including Milton Keynes Central Train Station, a high-performance unitised curtain wall facade design was carefully developed to build on the modernist architectural language, that can be assembled from prefabricated modular elements. The façade design sought to both engage with and vary from the existing curtain wall façade, with a new 1m-wide modular rhythm developed to align with every other mullion below. Expressive, deep aluminium fins were also introduced to provide further articulation and solar shading. The proposed rooftop extension seeks to enhance and celebrate its privileged setting, creating new homes with a civic character, tailored to the context.


Project data

Start on site August 2020
Completion date (partial)  September 2023
Gross internal floor area 17,300m² (total building), 12,675m² (change of use)
Form of contract or procurement route Design and build
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Scapolan Burney Architects
Client Gold Wynn
Structural engineer Axiom Structures
M&E consultant Avus Consulting
Quantity surveyor YS Associates
Acoustic consultant RSK Acoustics
Project manager YS Associates
CDM co-ordinator Cardinal UK
Planning consultant Hybrid Planning
Approved building inspector Bureau Veritas
Fire specialist Bureau Veritas
Main contractor X Construct
CAD software used Vectorworks