Cancer support center upsizes therapeutic value of plant pots

Heatherwick Studio's design for Maggie's Yorkshire is aimed at providing a calm, uplifting environment for cancer support services(Credit: Heatherwick Studio)

Heatherwick Studio, of London's controversial Garden Bridge, has unveiled the design for a new cancer support center in Leeds, UK. Looking not unlike a series of plant-pots filled with greenery, Maggie's Yorkshire aims to provide a calm and relaxed home for the support provided at the center.

The new center will be based in the grounds of St James’s University Hospital. The hospital diagnoses over 9,000 new cancer patients each year and provides specialist cancer services to around 2.6 million people. Maggie's Yorkshire will enhance the support already provided at the facility.

There are 18 Maggie's Centres across the world with more planned for the future. The centers employ an evidence-based program including psychological support, nutrition workshops, relaxation and stress management, art therapy, tai chi and yoga.

In designing Maggie's Yorkshire, the aim for Heatherwick Studio was to complement these services. The brief requested the creation of an informal and domestic space. It was also felt that there was an opportunity for creating positive exterior for visitors and passersby.

The building takes the form of number of stepped units joined together so that people can move between them. Each is home to a rooftop garden, with the variation in unit sizes bringing the greenery into the center in a visual sense.

The design is aimed at providing a calm, uplifting environment within the more sterile and perfunctory hospital campus. Heatherwick Studio says it has sought to capture the therapeutic effect of plants in contrast to the more formal surrounding hospital buildings. In addition to this pleasant and inspiring exterior, the firm has aimed to provide warm and informal interior spaces.

"We’re delighted to be working with Maggie’s to bring a Centre to Yorkshire and to have the opportunity to create a positive environment for users and staff," says studio founder Thomas Heatherwick. "The site is a small patch of green surrounded by the huge volumes of the existing hospital buildings. Instead of taking away the open space we wanted to make a whole building out of a garden. The design developed as a collection of large planters defining the building by enclosing a series of shared and private spaces between them."

Maggie's Yorkshire is scheduled to open in 2017.

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