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Maggies Cancer Caring Center

Maggies Cancer Caring Center

Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom
Project Year

Wellness Centres
© Snøhetta

Maggies Cancer Caring Center

Snøhetta as Architects

Snøhetta was in 2011 asked to draw the new Maggie’s Cancer Caring Center, a center associated with Forester Hill Hospital in Aberdeen. Maggie’s is not a treatment center, but a place where people diagnosed with cancer, as well as their families, can meet others who are in the same situation, and receive help and guidance. The center has six employees and a varying amount of daily visitors. The center is a detached pavilion at the edge of a big grass field, the Westburn Field. The site creates both belonging and independence from the hospital for Maggie’s. The location of the pavilion gives it a great view towards the green field, with plenty of sun from south to west.

Architecture The starting point for the concept is a simple form creating a shell. Three strategic cuts have been made in the shell, making up the north entrance, the south-west atrium, and a generous opening for lights to the east. Furthermore, the shell has five perforations of different sizes giving top light for the interior. The white shell creates a big room which encapsulates, at the same time as it opens up towards the park and the sky. In the middle of this room is a detached oak core which divides the big room into four zones; a generous outdoor room south-west, a kitchen to the north, a big living room east, and another living room to the south.

All these rooms have a connection to the encapsulated shell, and they make up the social rooms of the house. On the top of the core there is a mezzanine floor with office spaces and a meeting room with a view of the whole house. Therapy rooms, technical rooms, and toilets are located inside the core. The shell is a primitive structure built in concrete. It consists of three layers; concrete, isolation, and stucco, which all are sprayed and crafted by hand. The core is a timber-frame construction clad with oak.

Interior The center’s interior is created as the shell and the core meet – in the spaces they make. Material-wise, the softly shaped shell is given a hard concrete plaster, while the angular core is clad with soft wood. This span is the starting point for all elements of décor. Maggie’s offers help in a difficult time in people’s life. It is therefore important that the atmosphere inside has a homely and enclosing character. Nothing clinical should be in focus. The rooms’ different zones facilitate for community, for private conversations, and for alone-time. Generous tea cups, a fire place, books, and art, are intended to bring people together. All movable furniture is chosen to emphasize intimacy and security.

The structure of the core has a series of embedded segments, which are utilized as benches and book shelves. Upholstered cushions as well as painted and tiled surfaces in contrasting colors are used to break the dominance of the wood. Along the shell, inside and out, runs a long, white steel bench that works as a support bench and seating. It creates a link between the interior and the shielded outdoor space. The center has artworks of Norwegian artists both indoors and outside. Bård Breivik, Kristian Blystad, Kjell Nupen, and Nico Widerberg are represented. There are also several pieces by local artist.

Landscape The grass field on which the building is located is dominated by various grass spices. Tall-growing ornamental grasses are planted in a delimiting embankment towards the grass field. The existing line of trees alongside Westburn Road is supplemented with additional maple trees to create a lush delimitation to the field. A group of newly planted beech marks the entrance and creates a variation and contrast to the existing line of trees. An outdoor technical room is surrounded by a yew hedge, and the row of outdoor solar panels is integrated in the landscape’s overall pattern of perennial boarder and gravel paths with benches. The heart of the pavilion is an integral and sheltered outdoor space. The floor here is a combination of hard and soft surfaces with a centrally planted blooming cherry tree.

Located on the Southern boundary of Forester Hill Hospital Maggie`s Cancer Care Center is a free standing Pavilion at the edge of the Westburn field. nestling in the row of trees marking the course of the Westburn, the Maggies center enjoys views across the fields and ample sunlight from the south and west. The Maggies Cancer Caring Center is not a treatment center, but a place where individuals can meet, connect and receive help and guidance.

The building is conceived as a pavilion in its parkland settings. The soft exterior form envelops the whole of the center and sculpts the main spaces, whilst the timber interior buildings create to more intimate rooms and spaces that the centre requires. The centre is primarily in one ground floor level with a smaller mezzanine area devoted to office functions. The most important landscape aspect to the grass covered fields within which the centre sits. The texture and cutting pattern of the grass is proposed developed to form a largescale patter within which the pavilion building forms an integral part. To mark the entrance, a group of Beech trees are planted, contrasting in colour and texture to the existing trees. The courtyard garden is at the heart of the center and forms a secluded outdoor space. The courtyard is covered with a mix of hard and soft surfaces.

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