Heatherwick Studio’s new Maggie’s Center unveils timber frame

Heatherwick Studio has completed its first Maggie’s Centre, a “compassionate care” treatment center for cancer patients in Leeds, England, with stepped terraces meant to make the cluster of three buildings look like a series of planters.

Located next to St. James University Hospital, the center is Heatherwick Studio’s first healthcare project.

“Our goal,” wrote Thomas Heatherwick in the project launch announcement, “was to build a home for people affected by cancer that would be moving and welcoming, unlike other typical clinical environments.

“By using only natural and sustainable materials and immersing the building in thousands of plants, we had a chance to create an extraordinary environment capable of inspiring visitors with hope and perseverance during their difficult health journeys. “

To this end, the design team uses a palette of natural materials throughout the project site. Sustainably sourced, modularly assembled spruce was used to frame each of the three intersecting volumes, while a porous lime render was used for the walls thanks to its moisture absorbing qualities, which means that every building can be passively ventilated. Exposed wooden struts in each structure rise up and away from a central “stem,” while each building is wrapped in a glass curtain wall, giving them the appearance of mushrooms. Inside, an exercise room, communal kitchen, library, and other spaces for socializing round out the programmatic elements, while each building has a separate private boardroom.

Numerous plants cascade along the terraces, on the stairs and on the ledges. (Hufton + Raven)

To complement the scheme and enhance the “planter” type quality of the structures, a vegetation scheme from the UK-based landscape architecture firm Balston Agius. The team used a variety of evergreen plants native to Yorkshire to cover the centre’s roofs, and inside, flora in wicker baskets cascades down the stairs and shelves. In a nod to the late Maggie’s co-founder, Maggie Keswick Jencks, visitors are also invited to take a look at the centre’s 17,000 plants and 23,000 bulbs, an act of landscape contemplation.