Heatherwick Studio, Maggie's Cancer Centre Leeds, Healthcare & Wellness Architecture, Photo Hufton+Crow | Yellowtrace

Heatherwick Studio, Maggie's Cancer Centre Leeds, Healthcare & Wellness Architecture | Photo Hufton+Crow | Yellowtrace

Heatherwick Studio, Maggie's Cancer Centre Leeds, Healthcare & Wellness Architecture | Photo Hufton+Crow | Yellowtrace

Heatherwick Studio, Maggie's Cancer Centre Leeds, Healthcare & Wellness Architecture | Photo Hufton+Crow | Yellowtrace

 

Maggie’s, a charity that provides support for people affected by cancer, commissioned Heatherwick Studio to create its new centre in Leeds, located on the campus of St James’s University Hospital. The building was conceived as an extension of the surrounding garden, offering a welcoming space for visitors away from the clinical feel of hospital environments.

The interior features an arresting mushroom-like internal space shaped with natural and sustainable materials, offering a refreshing departure from the stark white walls found in medical facilities.

“This was a chance for us to make an extraordinary environment capable of inspiring visitors with hope and perseverance during their difficult health journeys,” says Thomas Heatherwick.

 

Related: Architecture of Hope: Maggie’s Cancer Centre in Oldham, UK by dRMM.

 

Heatherwick Studio, Maggie's Cancer Centre Leeds, Healthcare & Wellness Architecture | Photo Hufton+Crow | Yellowtrace

Heatherwick Studio, Maggie's Cancer Centre Leeds, Healthcare & Wellness Architecture | Photo Hufton+Crow | Yellowtrace

 

The 462 square meter building features three overlapping planters that offer places for refuge and social gathering. Upon entering, visitors become immersed within a space that can be likened to the inside of a hollowed tree – the fairy-tale version, where rooms are carved from organically curving pieces of wood. Private counselling rooms are shaped out of small enclaves in the structure, while a centrally placed kitchen, library and exercise room encourage social interaction.

Aligning with Maggie’s core philosophy and the belief that great design can help make people feel better, Heatherwick Studio implemented a series of energy-saving techniques and sustainable materials within the project. The centre is built from prefabricated and sustainably-sourced spruce timber. Curving fins capture light that floods in through glazed outer walls, encouraging shadows to slide down the walls before beginning their slow dance on the floor. Porous materials like lime plaster have been used to sustain optimal humidity levels within the naturally-ventilated building. Factors such as the building form and orientation have been carefully considered as the architects endeavoured to deliver an environmentally responsive design.

 

Heatherwick Studio, Maggie's Cancer Centre Leeds, Healthcare & Wellness Architecture | Photo Hufton+Crow | Yellowtrace

Heatherwick Studio, Maggie's Cancer Centre Leeds, Healthcare & Wellness Architecture | Photo Hufton+Crow | Yellowtrace

 

Landscape architects Balston Agius were in charge of the planting scheme that injects lush greenery into every pocket of space within the building. These were inspired by the Yorkshire woodlands and feature native English species alongside evergreen plants that will provide foliage even throughout winter. The centre explores the healing properties of natural materials, inviting visitors to participate in the care of the 23,000 bulbs and 17,000 plants on site.

Heatherwick Studio has delivered a building that blends the boundary between the garden and the interior, injecting green spaces vertically throughout the building. The inviting and personable interior wraps around visitors with a warm hug, offering a sense of comfort amongst the hardships of serious illness.

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