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Maggie’s Leeds by Heatherwick Studio, Photo: Hufton + Crow

Buildings like flowerpots: Maggie’s Leeds by Heatherwick Studio

Since the 1990s, Maggie’s Trust has built 26 care and counselling centres for cancer patients in the UK and Hong Kong. The organization is named for Maggie Keswick Jencks, who died of cancer in 1995 and whose husband, Charles Jencks, is a co-founder of the trust and well-known in architecture circles.

The latest Maggie’s Centre was developed according to designs prepared by Heatherwick Studio for the grounds of the university hospital in the north English city of Leeds. With the organically shaped new building, the architects above all wanted to create an oasis of tranquillity amid the bustling hospital activity and to channel the healing power of nature for both patients and guests. The three buildings were all conceived as larger-than-life planters, each borne by a massive “trunk” of massive, radial wooden ribs. Each structure is home to a counselling room. The kitchen functions as the communal heart of the complex; there are also a library and exercise room.

For the supporting structure, the architects used sprucewood in nearly every conceivable variation: the walls of the core and exterior, at least those that do not touch the ground, were built with food-framing techniques. The ribs consist of glulam timber and the ceilings are of plywood. The core walls and ceilings are coated with moisture-absorbing lime plaster. Two large tables of beechwood and cork continue the design language of the building, but on a smaller scale. For the lush rooftop planting on the complex, which measures nearly 500 m2, the architects worked with landscape architect Balston Agius. Native plants have been mixed with evergreens so the house will never look bald, even in the wintertime.

Further Information:

Timber engineering: Blumer Lehmann AG

Landscape architect: Balston Agius

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