Maggie’s Centres
offer support for people affected by cancer at any stage, whether patients, family members or friends. Their work is in complete support of conventional medical treatment.

Maggie’s Centre London, at Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith, is sited as a prominent ‘bookend’ to the hospital’s principal street frontage. It is conceived as a non-institutional building, an ‘open house’ of 370 m2, arranged over one-and–a-half floors. It is a structure which is both flexible and adaptable.

The entrance is approached from within the hospital grounds - a woodland walk leads to the centre between existing mature plane trees underplanted with hardy, decorative groundcover, culminating in a public courtyard surrounded by white flowered Magnolia loebneri 'Merrill' in spring. The entrance corridor is planted with rustling evergreen bamboos and a series of bespoke sculptures commissioned from ceramic artist, Hannah Bennett provide punctuation and objects for contemplation.

The building is made up of five components: a wall that wraps around four sides, providing protection from its exposed location; a kitchen, forming the heart of the internal space and allowing visitors to meet over a cup of tea or coffee and engage with one another in an informal setting; annexes off the main space, conceived as sitting rooms for people to talk, discuss, sit and relax; small courtyards and gardens formed between the annexes and the wall to create useable, protected, external rooms  and a ‘floating’ roof that  oversails the outer wall, signalling the building from the street.The building is naturally ventilated and all rooms opens onto an internal garden space.

Landscaping is a fundamental component of all the Maggie’s Centres. Here, its purpose is to integrate the standalone building into the hospital site, while also creating a distinct and therapeutic environment around and within the building, so adding to its healing potential.  The spaces are lushly planted and are designed to start the process of decompression and restoration the centre aims to encourage.

A massed woodland of pink-stemmed birch (Betula albosinesis ‘Septentrionalis’) wraps around the whole building creating a graphic streetscape against the rust red walls and adding to the shielding effect from the main road.

In time the birches will also provide a green backdrop for the open mezzanine level of office spaces and roof terraces. These have wooden decking, benches and planters planted with aromatic Mediterranean herbs to be used in the kitchen. This level creates space where staff can work but still continue to be in contact with visitors below.

The three key external garden areas – the northern, eastern and southern winter gardens – are effectively treated as extensions of the internal areas, even though they are open to the elements. Seen only from within the building, these inner courtyards are planted with exotic architectural plants to provide year round interest.  A horticultural occupational therapist works with users of the centre on the maintenance of the gardens as part of their therapeutic activity.

Images © Huw Morgan/Dan Pearson Studio

Maggie's Centre
2005 - 2008
Client: Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres
Less than 1 acre

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