Founding father of Milton Keynes dies

Derek Walker. Picture by Vicky Lamburn
Derek Walker. Picture by Vicky Lamburn

A founding father who designed most of Milton Keynes by daring to be different has died suddenly at the age of 85.

Derek Walker, famed for his flamboyance, is famed for his determination to create a new Urban Utopia.

He was appointed chief architect and planner of the former Milton Keynes Development Corporation in the early 1970s, commissioned with literally creating a city from acres of farmland.

His everlasting legacy will be the green spaces, tree-lined grid roads and, perhaps his greatest project, the now historically listed thecentre:mk.

During his heady heyday, he recruited a team of young, talented architects and planners from all Britain. Together they designed tens of thousands of new homes, 11 village plans and numerous supporting community, leisure, sporting and cultural facilities.

“Derek acted as creative ringmaster to some of the youngest and most interesting talent of the British Architectural scene,” said Henk van Aswegen, who is director of the City Discovery Centre where many of Derek’s working models of MK projects are still on display to visitors.

“Between him and Fred Lloyd Roach (MKDC General Manager) they drove the development of the city successfully forward, well beyond what was expected during another historical period of politically motivated cuts.”

And, said Henk, Derek’s pioneering approach paid off.

“Although regarded by many as brutalist or post-modern concretetopia, Milton Keynes is now the most successful of all the new towns built in the UK. This is a fitting legacy for one of the fathers of the city,” he said.