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Gehry-designed Maggie's Centre in Hong Kong opens doors

Frank Gehry’s recently completed Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Hong Kong has officially opened it doors

The scheme is the charity’s first purpose-built international centre and is Gehry’s second building for the organisation, having also designed Maggie’s Dundee in Scotland.

The surrounding gardens were drawn up by landscape architect Lily Jencks - the daughter of the organisation’s founders Maggie Keswick Jencks and Charles Jencks.

Maggie’s Hong Kong has been providing an interim service at its temporary building at Tuen Mun Hospital since 2008, ‘offering free support for anyone living with cancer including friends, family and carers’. 

The new building has been conceived as a series of pavilions ‘arranged to encourage movement between the interior and the landscape’.

Rooms open out onto the gardens or have private terraces overlooking the pond. There is also a public living and dining area which is the focal point of the building, with views of both the ponds and gardens.

Frank Gehry’s recently completed Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Hong Kong

Frank Gehry’s recently completed Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Hong Kong

Gehry said: ‘Maggie was bright and sunny and open and fun and whimsical and smart as hell. She was a real creative spirit, she had a healthy curiosity and she tried things, and in a sense I emulated her.

‘The building has feelings which I hope engender community activity, and that it’s comfortable for the patients to be there. It’s respectful of Chinese architecture and motifs. I hope it’s not copying anything Chinese or architectural, but I hope it’s very respectful of them.

You hope to make something that is soothing and respectful and hopeful

‘I was going through the loss of a daughter while I was designing the Centre. I think you sort of suck it up and hope to make something that is soothing and respectful and hopeful. There’s always hope, it’s not a dead end.’

Speaking about the surrounding landscape Lily Jencks said: ‘These intimate gardens represent the macrocosm of the universe within the microcosm of a landscape, bringing an awareness of man’s place in nature. The early integration of landscape and building form has created a complex relationship between the manmade forms and naturalistic garden setting.’ The Centre’s design aims to promote relaxation, art and music therapy.

Plans are underway to create a Maggie’s in Barcelona - designed by Scottish Parliament architect EMBT - along with a further three international centres by 2017.

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