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OMA unwraps Glasgow Maggie's Centre

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[First look] OMA has completed the new Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre in the grounds of the Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow

The 534m² structure, sat on a ‘green knoll’ next to the A-listed Gothic hospital, is the eighth Maggie’s Centre to be built since Richard Murphy’s first ‘home from home’ for cancer patients opened in 1996.

The new centre is close to the Beatson – the Glasgow’s oncology department.

Koolhaas’ practice joins a pantheon of stars, such as Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Richard Rogers and Richard MacCormac, commissioned to create Maggie’sCentres. Other shemes by Ted Cullinan, Piers Gough and Kisho Kurokawa are due to complete shortly.

The architect’s view

In 2007, Maggie’s approached OMA to design a new centre on the grounds of Gartnavel hospital in Glasgow, close to the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre. We designed a single-level building in the form of a ring of interlocking rooms surrounding an internal landscaped courtyard. Seemingly haphazardly arranged, the building is actually a careful composition of spaces responding to the needs of a Maggie’s Centre and providing a refuge for those coping with cancer.

The plan has been organised for the spaces to feel casual, almost carefree

Instead of a series isolated rooms, the building is designed as a sequence of interconnected L-shaped figures in plan that create clearly distinguished areas – an arrangement that minimises the need for corridors and hallways and allows the rooms to flow. The plan has been organised for the spaces to feel casual, almost carefree, allowing one to feel at ease and at home, part of an empathetic community of people. At the same time the design also provides spaces for more personal moments – either in the intimate setting of the counselling rooms, or in smaller nooks and private spaces.

Located in a natural setting, like a pavilion in the woods, the building is both introverted and extroverted: each space has a relationship either to the internal courtyard or to the surrounding woodland and greenery, while certain moments provide views of Glasgow beyond. With a flat roof and floor levels that respond to the natural topography, the rooms vary in height, with the more intimate areas programmed for private uses such as counselling, and more open and spacious zones for communal use. More than any other space, the internal courtyard provides a place of sanctuary and respite.

The 'womb room' at the Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre at Gartnavel, Glasgow

Source: Philippe Ruault

The ‘womb room’ at the Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre at Gartnavel, Glasgow

Project data

Project: Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre Client: Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres Trust
Status: Completed September 2011
Location: Gartnavel Hospital, in Glasgow, Scotland
Size: 534m²
Partners in charge: Rem Koolhaas, Ellen van Loon Associate in charge: Richard Hollington III
Team: Atsuo Arii, Josh Beck, Alexander Giarlis, Stephen Hodgson, Takuya Hosokai, Maria-Chiara Piccinelli, Koen Stockbroekx
Collaborators: Implementation architects - Keppie; Structure - Sinclair Knight Merz; Services - KJ Tait Engineers; Landscape - Lily Jencks; Fixed shelves - Vincent de Rijk


Previous story (AJ 07.01.2008)

Koolhaas to design latest Maggie’s Centre

Rem Koolhaas will be the latest internationally-renowned architect to design a Maggie’s Centre.

The new Gartnavel Centre will be in Glasgow, close to the Beatson – the city’s new oncology department which will help thousands of people.

Dutch architect Koolhaas will be the latest designer to take on the commission, joining an impressive list of architects including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers.

Founded by Maggie Keswick Jencks, the buildings are designed to act as a ‘home from home’ for cancer patients. The tradition of using acclaimed architects began with the very first centre, which opened in 1996 and was designed by Richard Murphy.

The latest centre was designed by Hadid and opened in Fife last year; the other completed projects, all located in Scotland, are in Dundee, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Maggie’s chief executive Laura Lee said: ‘Maggie’s Gartnavel Centre will be very important for people living with cancer and their family and friends, because of its accessibility to oncology services at the Beatson.’

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