FROM THE ARCHITECT:
The Maggie’s Centres are conceived to provide a welcoming ‘home away from home’ – a place of refuge where people affected by cancer can find emotional and practical support. The centres are located across Britain and, inspired by the blueprint for a new type of care set out by Maggie Keswick Jencks, place great value upon the power of architecture to lift the spirits and help in the process of therapy. The design of the Manchester centre aims to establish a new rapport between architecture and the landscape and, appropriately, is first glimpsed at the end of a tree-lined street, a short walk from The Christie Hospital and its leading oncology unit.
The building occupies a sunny site and is arranged over a single storey, keeping its profile low and reflecting the residential scale of the surrounding streets. The roof rises in the centre to create a mezzanine level, naturally illuminated by clerestory glazing, and it is supported by lightweight beams and a timber lattice, inspired by the structure of an aircraft
The beams act as natural partitions between different areas internally, while the southern part of the structure is planted with vines, visually dissolving the architecture into the surrounding gardens. The centre combines a variety of spaces, from intimate, private niches to a library, exercise rooms and places to gather and share a cup of tea. The heart of the building is the kitchen, which is centred on a large, communal table. Throughout the building, institutional references, such as corridors and hospital signs, are eliminated and the materials palette combines warm, natural wood and tactile fabrics, such as felt. Staff will be unobtrusive, yet close and accessible. Support offices and private rooms are placed on a mezzanine level within a wide central spine, with toilets and storage spaces below, maintaining natural visual connections across the building.
Throughout the centre, there is a focus on natural light, greenery and garden views.
The rectilinear plan is punctuated by landscaped courtyards and the entire western elevation extends into a wide veranda, which is sheltered from the rain by the deep overhang of the roof. Sliding glass doors open the building up to a magnificent green setting created by Dan Pearson Studio, and each treatment and counselling room on the eastern façade faces its own private garden. A greenhouse extends from the south of the building, where it is integrated with the structure like the cockpit of an aircraft. The greenhouse provides a garden retreat, a space for people to gather, to work with their hands and enjoy the therapeutic qualities of nature and the outdoors, while protected from the rain.