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Daniel Libeskind unveils Hampstead Maggie’s Centre designs

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Daniel Libeskind has unveiled designs for a ‘sculptural’ Maggie’s Centre for the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London

The Maggie’s will be built in a ‘forgotten corner’ of the hospital’s car park, and will replace its existing Cancerkin centre following the merging of the two support units in 2016.

The centre is a standalone project and will be built ahead of other developments in the Pond Street hospital’s wider masterplan.

Libeskind’s design, currently out for public consultation, includes an ‘approachable and undulating timber form’ and a roof garden which will act as a ‘serene enclosure’ for visitors. 

The façade’s prefabricated vertical louvres, to be manufactured offsite, are oriented to act as shading devices and create intimate spaces inside the building.

The 26-room building has gardens in the rear and front along Rowland Hill Street, which provides direct access into the two entry points of the building.

The centre will be the 21st Maggie’s Centre to be built in the UK. Previous architects to create Maggie’s Centres include Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, and Frank Gehry

Daniel Libeskind told the AJ he had first been asked to design a Maggie’s Centre in the early 2000s, and the design was the result of an ‘amazing’ 16-year journey with the charity.

He described the final product as a ‘modest building’ with a soft, intimate sculptural structure which included places for visitors to meet and yoga spaces.  

‘If the Royal Free hospital is a machine to heal people, this is a home. It’s not like entering an institution, it is a place where people can come and find comfort,’ he said.

Libeskind added that the Maggie’s commission proved architecture itself had the ability to provide healing. ‘It can help overcome trauma,’ he said.

The Polish-American architect said he was excited to return to north London, where his Graduate Centre for the London Metropolitan University’s in Holloway was completed in 2004. 

’We’re not doing skyscrapers in London,’ he said. ‘These projects [the Maggie’s and London Met project] are for institutions I believe in.’

A spokesperson for Maggie’s said the building would provide an ‘oasis for those affected by cancer, a place of respite in an ever more chaotic and bureaucratic world’.

Other UK projects by Libeskind include the £11.5 million centre for cosmology and astronomy researchers at Durham University and his 2002 Imperial War Museum in Manchester.

Major projects are underway at the north London hospital, including a new emergency department and Hopkins Architects’ £42 million research facility, due for completion in 2020.

A planning application for Libeskind’s Maggie’s Centre is expected to be submitted to Camden Council in autumn.

Maggie's site plan

Maggie’s site plan 

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