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Coppin Dockray wins contentious Maggie’s ideas contest

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Coppin Dockray has won an ideas contest for a 280m² cancer care and support centre, branded ‘exploitative’ by critics for featuring a lunch as its top prize

The London studio, founded by Sandra Coppin and Bev Dockray in 2012, was chosen ahead of 16 rival entries to win the competition backed by NBS (National Building Specification) and Maggie’s Newcastle.

The Make Maggie’s Yours competition sought ‘visionary’ proposals for a hypothetical 280m² Maggie’s Centre that provided a feeling of welcome and safety. The brief did not focus on any specific site.

Critics of the contest included Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio who questioned whether having large numbers of practices provide ideas, images and plans for the chance of winning a lunch was ‘devaluing what architects do’.

Competition judges included Cullinan Studio founder Ted Cullinan, who completed a Maggie’s Centre in Newcastle five years ago. Cullinan described the winning scheme – focused around a working kitchen garden – as an ‘excellent illustrated essay’.

He said: ‘It starts like this “we imagine a place of sanctuary, a place where you can take part or sit in a quiet corner, a place of possibilities and choices”, and it continues with the same grace.

‘The scheme, made from brick, timber and with thatched roofs, partly sits in the garden and partly creates the garden; and the garden has areas of orchard, vegetable-growing and rest. The drawings are excellently graceful.’

Maggie’s was founded in 1995, following the death of Keswick Jencks from cancer. The first centre was designed by Richard Murphy Architects and opened in Edinburgh in 1996.

The charity has since completed 14 further cancer care centres in the UK and overseas by architects including OMA, Rogers Stirk Harbour, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, CZWG and Foster + Partners. Cullinan Studio completed Maggie’s 12th project in Newcastle in 2013.

More than 300,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the UK every year. 

The latest contest was divided into student and professional categories and aimed to generate new ideas and boost awareness of the charity. Proposals had to feature a kitchen at the centre’s heart, a garden and a clearly identifiable entrance. 

Overall winner of the student category was Kirsten Adjei-Attah from Coventry University. Entries by Napper, Martin Flett, Holt Architecture, Sanya Polescuk Architects, and Connolly Prajs Studio were highly commended.

The two overall winners will be invited for a special tour and lunch with Cullinan at Maggie’s Newcastle. Winning entries will also be displayed during a Maggie’s Newcastle ‘Culture Crawl’ event later this year.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Maggie's is a charitable organisation, helping increase quality of life for people living with cancer. It is continuously seeking to further the ways of doing so and this competition was set with that in mind. We are proud to have helped contribute to that quest.

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  • MacKenzie Architects

    I thought that throwing some ideas together for a healthcare charity type thing is exactly what Architects should be doing in their spare time.

    So well done to those who did.
    Interesting plan by the winners if it's developed.
    Coming into a farmhouse kitchen is a great idea, informal and no pressure; I hope they put an Aga in there (other ranges are available) maybe some socks drying and an old border collie.

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