Sanctuary of Refuge

A lasting proof that good architecture can heal are Great Britain’s Maggie’s Cancer Centres. They are conceived to provide a welcoming ‘home away from home’ – a place of refuge where people suffering from cancer can find free practical, emotional and social support. The exceptional thing about these very special pavillons: They stand apart from big clinics in various cities, and are all designed by well-known architects such as Frank O.Gehry, Kisho Kurokawa, Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas. They are financed by donations, the site is provided by the clinic.
So far more than a dozen of these pavillons have been built. The idea originates from Maggie Keswick Jencks, and her husband Charles Jencks, an American architectural theorist, from the time Maggie herself had cancer. The first of these centres opened 1996 in Edinburgh, a year after her death.

End of April this year the latest Maggie’s Cancer Centre was opened in the grounds of The Christie Hospital in Manchester by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall – the president of the charity Maggie’s. It was designed by Foster + Partners, and again confirms the centre’s concept of creating a domestic atmosphere in a garden setting, this time similar to a greenhouse. It 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 around a large, communal table. There is a focus on natural light, greenery and views to a garden setting created by Dan Pearson Studio. Norman Foster was born and raised in Manchester, and is a cancer survivor himself.

Photos: Nigel Young/Foster + Partners