British architecture gives its top award to Richard Rogers in the year of his bruising public row with Prince Charles
The cancer support centre in west London was commissioned by Charles Jencks, whose wife Maggie died of the disease. There are already five Maggie’s Centres in Scotland, including designs by Frank Gehry (Dundee) and Zaha Hadid (Fife).
In his acceptance speech Rogers said: ‘The one person missing here is Maggie. She will certainly be the person I am thinking of.’
This prize tops a turbulent year which saw Rogers fall out with Prince Charles, who he saw as responsible for his removal from the £1bn Chelsea Barracks scheme. Rogers has previously won the Stirling Prize in 2006 for his Madrid Barajas airport terminal.
RIBA President Ruth Reed, who presented Rogers with the award, said: ‘The shortlist for this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize was of an exceptionally high standard, and I would like to congratulate each of the shortlisted entries. In the Maggie’s Centre we have a much deserved winner, and I am delighted to award Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners with architecture’s highest accolade.’
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ Maggie’s Centre exceeds at every level in fulfilling the most demanding of briefs: to create a sanctuary for terminally ill cancer sufferers with client Charles Jencks, whose deep conviction of architecture’s power to shape our experience has led to a series of cancer care centres creating a fitting memorial to his wife Maggie.
This quietly confident building is truly, unquestionably a haven for those who have been diagnosed with cancer. Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners’ achievement is in having created a completely informal, home-like sanctuary to help patients learn to live with cancer.
Conceived as a two-storey pavilion, the centre’s positive spirit is signalled with a bold roof canopy that hovers high above the walls to sail protectively over a series of intimate internal gardens, courtyards and roof terraces. A deep orange rendered wall puts a protective arm around it, making it a place apart without denying it is a part of the city. This antithesis of a hospital provides an open house in the city.
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners has produced a timeless work of architecture that not only distils the intentions of this brief but expresses in built form compassion, sensitivity and a deep sense of our common humanity.
- Stirling Prize ceremony pictures copyright Andrew Hendry
Stirling Prize 2009 shortlisted projects
Maggie’s Centre, London, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Bodegas Protos, Spain, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Fuglsang Kunstmuseum, Denmark, Tony Fretton Architects
5 Aldermanbury Square’ London, Eric Parry Architects
Liverpool One Masterplan, Liverpool, BDP
Kentish Town Health Centre, London, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris
Do you agree with the verdict of the judges?