Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre | The Plan
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Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre

OMA Rem Koolhaas

The Maggie’s Centres, some more signature in style than others, are beautifully designed havens of peace and respite. Founded as a charitable venture 15 years ago by Charles Jencks, the guru of Post-Modernism in memory of his late wife Maggie Keswick Jencks, who died of cancer, 15 Centres, all located on hospital grounds throughout the UK, now exist. Nottingham (architect Piers Gough of CZWG) and Swansea (Kisho Kurokawa) open soon, and later Aberdeen in Scotland (Snøhetta), and then Hong Kong (Frank Gehry); three more are in the pipeline for London. Anyone affected by cancer can go to one of them for comfort, conversation when undergoing treatment or during bereavement, for the psychological and educational benefits of counseling and workshops. Complementing the clinical atmosphere of cancer centres run by the state, the Centres are full of light and open spaces with a big kitchen and communal table at their heart, a relaxing, homely and warm atmosphere. Noone forces the emotional stricken if they prefer to just sit with a counsellor in one of three private living rooms. This year the British Medical Association called on healthcare organizations to prioritise design and the Centres’ architecture has enabled a widely praised humanitarian cause.
The new Maggie’s Centre by OMA in Glasgow is a gem. The practice’s first building in the UK, they chose the site. The building is a pavilion in high on a grassy knoll behind Gartnavel Hospital, a utilitarian 1970s structure, on landscaped grounds designed by Jencks’s daughter, Lily, in front of a Gothic former mental hospital. A single storey structure with a 350mm thick concrete slab roof, its overhangs of up to 8 metres create small terraced areas on the hill side. The most open plan of the series, it is a concentric ring of interconnected rooms around a small internal landscaped courtyard Jencks also designed with plantings. The plan shows a sequence of L-shaped spaces. They are linked, yet clearly...

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