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Maggie’s in-house architect: ‘Our architects must leave their egos behind’

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Diego Alejandro Teixeira Seisdedos describes his role as in-house architect at Maggie’s and what qualities he looks for in architects

How long have you worked for Maggie’s and what is your background?

I’ve been an international designer and architect for 20 years working in Japan, Korea and Finland, and have been based in the UK for the past 10 years. I worked with Maggie’s while at Foster + Partners on the design and build of Maggie’s Manchester and joined Maggie’s in-house after the centre opened in 2016.

At what point do you get involved with projects?

It depends on the project, but all stages really. For example, I’ve been involved in the extension of our Edinburgh centre from the start, but for our centre planned in Oldham I’ve just been involved for the later stages looking at the interior. On a day to day basis I liaise with architects, contractors, project managers and furniture makers.

Maggies_dRMM__5_

Maggies_dRMM__5_

Maggie’s Oldham designed by dRMM

How do you choose architects?

Laura Lee, Maggie’s chief executive, has worked alongside friend and co-client Marcia Blakenham to commission of all our 20 centres. Laura and Marcia use interviews and word of mouth recommendations to appoint architects and contractors who they feel have an interesting, thoughtful and human response to the Maggie’s architectural brief, and who they consider best placed to meet the demands of each site.

Are you open to hearing from practices about working with you – and if so, what do you want to know about them?

Yes definitely, we’re always open to meeting proactive people who wish to collaborate with us. We’d like to know that they are passionate and willing to attribute all of their skills to a project.

What is the most important skill possessed by the architects you have worked with?

Having vision and being humble. Leaving their egos behind and approaching the project by always having the end user – people living with cancer – in mind.

More Maggie’s

MCGG_1011_19496

MCGG_1011_19496

Maggie’s Centre Gartnavel, Glasgow by OMA

View drawings, details and photos of 14 Maggie’s Centres in the AJ Buildings Library

Maggie’s Glasgow by OMA, Maggie’s Lanarkshire by Reich and Hall, and Maggie’s Aberdeen by Snohetta are FREE TO VIEW until Sunday

Who have you enjoyed working with the most and why?

Asking that is like asking to name a favourite child! I enjoy working with all of our architects and each one brings something new and exciting to the table. I’m currently working with Alex de Rijke of dRMM on our Oldham Centre, which will open this June, and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with him and his team.

Which project was the most challenging?

All projects have their individual challenges, but once the centre is open and supporting people with cancer it’s hard to remember the tricky times! I think the current project I’m working on, whatever that may be, is always the most challenging as all efforts go into opening the centre and making sure it’s as good, if not better than, our last!

Did the change of architects on the Forth Valley job impact on the scheme?

Yes, but in a positive way, as we were able to improve the design and create something we’re really happy with by moving with the change instead of fighting it.

EM Garbers and James   Forth Valley Maggies Centre   011

EM Garbers and James Forth Valley Maggies Centre 011

Maggie’s Forth Valley by Garbers & James

Can you tell us about your next projects and their locations?

Work is underway for our second London centre at St Bartholomew’s Hospital designed by Steven Holl Architects – we’ve already made a start and it’s a really exciting build among a very old urban hospital, which can be tricky at times as we have very little space to work with. 

Has the design or approach to what a Maggie’s centre should be changed direction over the last 20 years?

Every centre is individual so the approach is always different, but that’s one of the things that makes Maggie’s such an exciting place to work. While each building is physically unique, the shared environment each one creates is no accident but the response of each architectural team to a carefully thought through architectural brief.

The brief itself remains true to many of the concepts Maggie Keswick Jencks valued in the plans for her original centre in Edinburgh, but has developed slightly over time as Maggie’s has grown as an organisation, has learnt from previous centres and become more ambitious in what it asks of each design team.

How do you decide on budgets for each site?

The budget for each site will vary depending on the size of the centre. We look at the physical size of the plot we’re given and also take into consideration the size of the hospital and the local cancer population to estimate how many people we think each centre will support. 

Does winning awards – like the Stirling Prize – matter to you?

It’s always nice getting recognition for your work, but seeing people living with cancer feeling at home and enjoying the space in the centres is by far the best part of my job.

Maggie's rogers rshp hammersmith

Maggie’s rogers rshp hammersmith

Source: Richard Bryant

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Maggie’s Hammersmith

Can you tell us more about the Culture Crawl events?

They’re evenings of fun, food and culture where walkers get exclusive access to amazing spaces with live entertainment. We have 11 events across the UK this year, all on 29 September and featuring fantastic venues such as the Design Museum and Old Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church. So register now and walk for Maggie’s!

About Maggie’s Culture Crawl

Maggies 38081967224

Maggies 38081967224

Join Maggie’s on 29 September in London, Glasgow, Oxford, Nottingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Oldham for a behind-the-scenes experience of some of these cities’ most iconic landmarks.

Venues participating include the Design Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts, and at each venue across the route there will be cultural performances including live music, arts and food.

Taking part in Culture Crawl helps Maggie’s continue to support and reach more people affected by cancer.

Places are limited – click here to register

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