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Jencks commissions Rogers in Maggie's Centre network

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The Maggie Jencks Trust has commissioned another three complementary cancer care centres as it continues to work with world-class architects, the AJ can reveal.

Lord Rogers will design a new Maggie's Centre at Charing Cross Hospital, London, while Zaha Hadid is already drawing up plans for a site in Kirkcaldy, Scotland (AJ 13.9.01).

Hawkins/Brown is preparing a new scheme at Sheffield Hospital, and Page and Park - which has already designed a centre in Glasgow - is working on plans for another at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. This £500,000 project will be set within landscaping by Charles Jencks, whose late wife Maggie conceived the original idea for the centres.

This latest flurry of commissions will bring the total number of Maggie's Centre projects to eight. Although the trust does not rule out the building of further centres in the long term, for the moment it will concentrate on the ones now under way.

Charles Jencks, founder of the trust, would like the centres to provide a model for future cancer care throughout the country. 'But it's more important to make each one work well than to have one in every hospital, ' he said.

The original Maggie's Centre - an award-winning stable-block conversion by Richard Murphy, which was extended earlier this year (AJ 20.9.01) - opened in 1996. Others followed: schemes by Frank Gehry in Dundee and Page and Park in Glasgow are currently under construction, but a Daniel Libeskind scheme in Cambridge is temporarily on hold, following problems with the site.

The concept behind the Maggie's Centres is to create places of solace and support for cancer patients and their carers, located geographically close to oncology departments, but providing an alternative to the hospital environment.An important element has been access to top-class architects - most of whom are close friends of Jencks and his late wife Maggie. But Jencks stresses that there is less emphasis on the use of superstar architects, than on the architecture as 'an important symbol and sign of what the building is'. And though it has not been policy only to commission friends, it has been important. 'It has allowed for a deeper involvement on their part, ' Jencks said.

Architects are given an almost contradictory brief. On the one hand, they are told to create 'moments of incredible intensity and creativity', but to be 'extremely anonymous' - the architecture must not overwhelm the people who use it.

Lord Rogers' project is in the early stages, awaiting a project meeting with the hospital later this month. Page and Park's Inverness scheme is in the interim design stage and should be submitted for planning next month.

Hawkins/Brown's £700,000 scheme will involve the conversion of a derelict four-storey Edwardian house on the Royal Hallamshire Hospital site in central Sheffield. Plans include the creation of a central void and the opening up of spaces across and between floors, with sliding panels to create private spaces when needed. A planning application will be submitted in the New Year. Director of Hawkins/Brown David Bickle said the commission was a fantastic opportunity for the practice: 'We're very pleased to be in such illustrious company.'

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