Lead Maggi to cancer

Maggie’s Centers: healing architecture by Gehry, Foster, Hadid and Co.


"The diagnosis of cancer hits you like a punch in the stomach," wrote Maggie Keswick Jencks of her personal experience. The British woman was confronted with an initial diagnosis and treated over the course of seven years, and experienced improvement and relapse. The wife of the architectural historian Charles Jencks, who died of cancer in 1995, converted her findings and experiences from this time into a new approach to cancer treatment.

  1. Barts, Steven Holl
  2. Dundee, Frank Gehry
  3. Aberdeen, Snøhetta
  4. Fife, Zaha Hadid
  5. Glasgow, OMA / Rem Koolhaas
  6. Hong Kong, Frank Gehry
  7. Manchester, Norman Foster
  8. Oxford, Chris Wilkinson
  9. West London, Richard Rogers
  10. Swansea, Kisho Kurokawa
  11. 2020 NEW: Leeds, Heatherwick Studio

Inviting rooms for cancer patients

The focus is on the importance of the environment for cancer sufferers: from “well thought-out lighting” to “views of trees, birds and the sky”, the opportunity to relax, the need for an inviting and calming space as a place of privacy that someone can absorb information at their own pace. Based on experience with around twenty cancer centers and their spatial and atmospheric requirements, the British Maggie’s Foundation has published a guide for architects and landscape architects. Spatial concepts enjoy a high priority at the non-profit organization, internationally famous architectural offices design their centers, which also facilitates the acquisition of donations.

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1. Maggie’s Barts, Steven Holl

Since 2017, Maggie’s Barts has been located in central London not far from the Barbican Center on the grounds of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London’s oldest clinic. During the day, Steven Holl's small structure looks rather compact, with the division of the matt glass facade taking up the structure of the neighboring rusticated plinth. When the light goes on in the house, the contrast to the mighty old buildings is all the greater: now the Maggie’s Center gains lightness and it shimmers like a jewel with colored accents.

The daylight also creates different lighting moods in the three-story interior, which looks like a somewhat larger residential building. A striking staircase leads from the open zones on the ground floor to the library, consultation rooms and roof terrace.

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Maggie's Barts, Steven Holl (click for more pictures)

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2. Maggie’s Dundee, Frank Gehry

The hut-like building with a corrugated silver roof is modeled on a traditional Scottish "butt n‘ ben "apartment and offers an inviting feeling of peace and security. Maggie’s Dundee was the foundation’s first new building in 2003 and was designed by Frank Gehry.

The garden, designed by Arabella Lenox-Boyd, contains a maze design based on the model of Chartres Cathedral in France. The labyrinth is an allegory for life: it is not a maze, there are no dead ends, but you have to trust that you will find a way through it, even if it often feels like you are going in the completely wrong direction. On the premises of the center there is also a sculpture by the renowned artist Anthony Gormley entitled “Another Time X”.

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Maggie's Dundee, Frank Gehry (click for more pictures)

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3. Maggie’s Aberdeen, Snøhetta

Maggie’s Aberdeen was built in 2013. The curved building is intended to give its visitors a feeling of warmth, security and protection. It lies like a pebble on the grass, with a group of beeches marking the main entrance. Cherry trees to the rear of the center provide an outdoor sanctuary in warmer weather. The building and the outdoor spaces were designed by Snøhetta.

In the middle of the building, the Norwegian architects created a high-ceilinged room that feels calming and peaceful. “In a world of architectural commercialism,” says Kjetil Thorsen from Snøhetta, “it was the most sensible task to look for an occupation with spaces, materials and landscapes in the service of psychological and emotional healing processes.”

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Maggie's Aberdeen, Snøhetta (click for more pictures)

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4. Maggie’s Fife, Zaha Hadid

Maggie’s Fife was Zaha Hadid’s first permanent project in the UK in 2006. The center stands in direct and conscious contrast to the architecture of the neighboring Kircaldy Hospital. In particular, it uses natural light. A glass wall reveals a slope full of plants. The exterior with its extensive black roof is reminiscent of a piece of coal, which can provide warmth and comfort, a reminiscence of the old mining community of Fife.

“As soon as you enter the building, you enter a completely different world,” says Zaha Hadid. “It's kind of a domestic space, it's relaxing. Hospitals should have intimate spaces, places where patients can have some time to themselves to withdraw ”.

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Maggie's Fife, Zaha Hadid (click for more pictures)

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5. Maggie’s Glasgow, OMA / Rem Koolhaas

The striking, one-story building from 2011 loops like a ring around a landscaped inner courtyard and is embedded in the forest on the grounds of the Gartnavel General Hospital. Rem Koolhaas designed the rooms so that they flow into one another and yet remain separate: "like a series of scenes of domesticity in which the kitchen, dining room and library appear one after the other". This makes the center feel homely and stands in direct contrast to the institutional atmosphere of a hospital.

Lily Jencks, the daughter of co-founders Maggie Keswick Jencks and Charles Jencks, designed the planting of the inner courtyard and the wooded clearings that surround the center. Maggie’s Glasgow was awarded the Andrew Doolan Prize for the best building in Scotland in 2012 and was shortlisted for the 2012 RIBA Stirling Prize.

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Maggie's Glasgow, Rem Koolhaas (click for more pictures)

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6. Maggie’s Hong Kong, Frank Gehry

The project was the first newly built center outside the UK and, after Dundee, the second building Frank Gehry built for the foundation. The surrounding gardens were designed by landscape architect Lily Jencks (daughter of Maggie Keswick Jencks and Charles Jencks). Maggie’s Hong Kong is designed as a series of pavilions arranged to encourage movement between the interior and the garden.

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Maggie's Hong Kong, Frank Gehry (click for more pictures)

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7. Maggie’s Manchester, Norman Foster

The house, located in a quiet garden, opened in April 2016. The wooden structure of Maggie’s Manchester is arranged around a broad, central backbone. Exposed beams and wooden lattices define different rooms, and because the roof rises in the middle, an intermediate level is created that is illuminated by natural light. A winter garden serves as a meeting point.

The gardens were designed by landscape designer Dan Pearson. Their colors and the sensual experience of nature become part of the center through micro-gardens and courtyards that relate to the various spaces within the building. Deep canopies protect the open terraces from rain, so that you can enjoy the garden in any weather.

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Maggie's Manchester, Norman Foster (click for more pictures)

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8. Maggie’s Oxford, Chris Wilkinson

The tree house on stilts assimilates in the surrounding forest. The design creates discreet spaces for relaxation, information and therapy. Touchstone Collaborations (formerly Topio) were responsible for the landscape planning. They have teamed up with local initiatives and secured the threatened green areas on the nearby stream. The planting of trees and bushes and the sowing of wildflowers are intended to strengthen existing plant communities and provide a developing habitat for local wildlife. Maggie’s Oxford opened in 2014.

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Maggie's Oxford, Chris Wilkinson (click for more pictures)

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9. Maggie’s West London, Richard Rogers

The building, built in 2008, protects visitors from the busy streets of the city and the adjoining hospital. "The roof, the landscaping, the fireplace inside, the view outside - all of this should get the users away from the hospital and the hustle and bustle on the street," says Richard Rogers. The bright orange walls lead visitors into bright and open rooms. The house is in a series of courtyards and gardens that lead people from the hospital to Maggie’s West London.

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Maggie's West London, Richard Rogers (click for more pictures)

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10. Maggie’s Swansea, Kisho Kurokawa

Peace and serenity come together in the swirling structure of Maggie's Swansea, designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa in 2011. A hanging fireplace blazes in the central “drum” in the common room while visitors sit around the kitchen table. There are a number of more secluded rooms in the wings for focused discussions and support.

The garden, designed by Kim Wilkie, attracts wildlife, which not only visually brings nature closer to the viewer, but also strengthens a feeling of calm. The center is located in the middle of a small forest area. The wings of the design protect the outdoor seating so that visitors can sit outside all year round.

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Maggie's Swansea, Kisho Kurokawa (click for more pictures)