Planning Authorisation and Development of a New Maggie’s Centre in South Manchester

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In support of our charity of the year ‘Pancreatic Cancer’ it seems fitting to recognise the new planning authorisation and development by Sir Norman Foster for a new Maggie’s centre in south Manchester, which will be due to open in 2016.

Working in partnership with the ‘Christie,’ who are a global leader in cancer research and treatment, the new Maggie’s centre will provide free support ranging from practical, emotional and social support for anyone living with cancer as well as family and friends affected. The new centre will offer a non-clinical environment where by anyone that is affected by caner can stop of advice, guidance and support.

The Maggie’s centres were first founded by Maggie Keswick Jencks who lived with advanced cancer for two years. During this time she used her knowledge and experience to create a ‘blueprint’ for a new type of care. Maggie’s Centres are built around her belief that people should not “lose the joy of living in the fear of dying”

The first Maggie’s centre to open was in Edinburgh in 1996 and currently there are now 17 Maggie's centres in the UK that are all designed by leading architects. Each centre bringing the designers own individual qualities and interpretations to the same type of brief, which is based purely on the needs of a person living with cancer.

The following examples demonstrate the diversity of working with different contractors and designers to produce a successful outcome.

uploads/gallery_plugin/8_8.jpg images below illustrate the first Maggies centre in Edinburgh, which was built as a redevelopment of old stable blocks, and blended traditional Scottish stonework with modern architectural methods.


The centre was designed by 19 times RIBA awarded Richard Murphy Architects, Murphy has said his inspiration “was to slip a building within a building, with lots of little niches and intimate spaces”. The open plan nature allows for an emotional openness, with sadness as well as laughter, while the more private spaces allow for peace and quiet.”(Murphy, 1996)

The Emma Keswick was the chosen garden designer giving the landscape colour all year round with calming transitions away from the hospital.’s Dundee

Maggies Dundee was design by none other than leading architect Frank Gehry and opened in 2003. It was the first ‘new build’ centre to be design and constructed with the wavy silver roof, taking inspiration from the traditional Scottish “butt n’ ben” dwelling, offering peace and sanctuary.“I think it’s an inviting building, people will want to come inside and spend time there, and I really hope that in some small way it might contribute to a sense of rejuvenated vigour for moving forward and living life”(Gehry,2003)

The garden was designed by Arabella Lenox-Boyd and demonstrates a ‘labyrinth’ design based which is a symbol for life; “It isn’t a maze, there are no dead ends, but you have to trust you will find a route through, even though often it feels like you are heading in completely the wrong direction.” (Lenox- Boyd, 2003)’s Nottingham

Designed by Architect Peirs Gough and built in 2011 It is said that the Interior of the Nottingham’s Maggie’s centre is the most distinctive of them all, with the Interior being designed by Nottingham born designer Paul Smith. His electric mix of colourful prints and fabrics, meets classic design and furniture. Each room within the space has been designed to create a completely different atmosphere to evoke feelings and inspiration.

The idea is that you walk in and say ‘oh isn’t that a lovely fabric?’ or ‘isn’t that hideous?’ -whatever it provokes, at least it’s a kick-off of a conversation.” (Sir Paul Smith, 2011)

The landscape around the Maggie’s Nottingham was designed by a London based practise Envert Studio, whose inspiration and focus was on scent and texture when selecting which plants to use.’s Fife

Built in 2006, Maggie’s in Fife was Zaha Hadid’s first permanent structure in the UK and Hadid’s intention was to ensure that the new centre was a deliberate contrast to that of the architecture of Kircaldy hospital.

“Once you step into the building you enter a completely different world. It is a kind of domestic space, it’s relaxing. Hospitals should have intimate spaces, places where patients can have a little time for themselves, to retreat into… It’s about how space can make you feel good.” (Hadid, 2006)

Maggie’s Manchester Foster’s proposed Maggie’s cancer care centre in Manchester

Sir Norman Foster has been given the ‘go ahead’ for the new Maggie’s centre based in south Manchester

“This project has a particular personal significance, as I was born in the city and have first-hand experience of the distress of a cancer diagnosis. I believe in the power of architecture to lift the spirits and help in the process of therapy. Within the Centre, there are a variety of spaces, visitors can gather around a big kitchen table, find a peaceful place to think or they can work with their hands in the greenhouse. Throughout, there is a focus on natural light and contact with the gardens. The timber frame, with its planted lattice helps to dissolve the architecture into the surrounding greenery." (Foster, 2014)

The design has been inspired and will be set within peaceful gardens and green to reflect and engage with the outdoors. The Interior spaces will feature wooden surfaces and tactile fabrics, while the surrounding gardens will be designed by landscape architect Dan Pearson, offering clusters of flowers and calming water features. The colours and sensory experience of nature will become part of the centre through ‘micro gardens’ and internal courtyards that relate to the different spaces within the building.

Arranged over a single storey, the natural timber structure focuses around a wide, central spine with the roof rising in the centre to create a mezzanine level to illuminate with natural light. The centre will also feature a pool with moving water will provide a calm space set amidst deep canopies that will shelter the centre's open terraces from rain, allowing people to enjoy fresh air and the garden whatever the ‘British’ weather is.

Images Edinburgh

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