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dRMM’s Oldham Maggie’s Centre gets go-ahead

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Timber experts dRMM has won planning for a new Maggie’s Centre in Oldham

ARCHITECT’S VIEW • PROJECT DATA

The new centre will sit within the grounds of the Royal Oldham Hospital and is set to become the cancer care charity’s second project in Greater Manchester.

Foster + Partners won planning for a scheme at Christie Hospital in Manchester last year which is set to open in 2016.

According to the practice, dRMM’s Maggie’s Centre will be a ‘house full of surprises.’

The scheme will be supported on slender columns which allow it to float above a sloping garden with a reflecting pool and a series of ‘open air rooms’ framed by birch and pine trees, while trees will also grow up through the timber building.

Landscaping is being designed by Jinny Blom Landscape Design and will surround the centre in a natural woodland.

Laura Lee, Chief Executive of Maggie’s adds: ‘We are delighted that planning permission has been granted for Maggie’s Oldham, as it brings us a step closer to the Centre becoming a reality. Creating a calm and uplifting environment to enable us to provide our programme of support to people living with cancer is incredibly important and dRMM’s innovative design will allow us to do just that.

‘Maggie’s Oldham will be our second Centre in the North West, following in the footsteps of Maggie’s at The Christie. The programme of support that these two Centres will offer aims to improve the physical and emotional wellbeing of people with cancer, allowing us to fulfil our ambition of providing the highest quality of cancer support to complement the excellent clinical care already on offer across the North West.’

Alex de Rijke, co-founding director of dRMM Architects, added: ‘The planning approval signals support not only for Maggie’s ambition to extend their unique services to Oldham; it recognises that progressive architecture is part of progressive thinking about cancer care. dRMM Architects are delighted to be designing a special place embodying this positivity!’

Jinny Blom of Jinny Blom Landscape Design, commented: ‘Gardens and the opportunity they give us to immerse ourselves in nature are immensely important. Fresh air, calm places, proximity to plants and wildlife help balance the emotional and physical intensity that accompanies stressful times. The little garden at Maggie’s can be enjoyed from within in the treetops due to the wonderful floating building, or as a charming woodland experience with little glades to sit in and enjoy the birds flitting about. Essentially we are making a gentle woodland setting, full of delight, for the timber and glass building.’

Maggie's Oldham designed by dRMM

Maggie’s Oldham designed by dRMM

Architect’s view

A Maggie’s Centre can be likened to a house; ours is a house full of surprises. The building hovers over a sloping garden, supported on very slender columns. The garden offers ‘open air rooms’ framed by pine and birch trees, with a reflecting pool of rainwater discovered underneath the building.

From this central oasis trees grow up through the building, bringing nature into the interior. The building is about content, not form. On entering the deliberately simple timber box over a bridge, the visitor is confronted with a light-filled void of trees and unexpected simultaneous views down to the garden pool below, up to the sky, and out to the Pennine horizon.

The need for both privacy and collectivity is respectively met with discreet meeting rooms and niches carved from a ‘thick’ wall, and the otherwise completely open interior space, planned around the central lightwell. The materials are timber, glass and the outside presence and colours of the garden inside.

Maggie's Oldham designed by dRMM

Maggie’s Oldham designed by dRMM

Project data

Location Oldham, Greater Manchester
Type of project cancer care centre
Architect dRMM
Client Maggie’s
Planning submission October 2015
Expected completion 2016

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