Architecture

Greenery-covered cancer support center conceived as oversized planters

Greenery-covered cancer suppor...
Visitors to Maggie's Leeds are encouraged to participate in caring for its 23,000 bulbs and 17,000 plants
Visitors to Maggie's Leeds are encouraged to participate in caring for its 23,000 bulbs and 17,000 plants
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Visitors to Maggie's Leeds are encouraged to participate in caring for its 23,000 bulbs and 17,000 plants
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Visitors to Maggie's Leeds are encouraged to participate in caring for its 23,000 bulbs and 17,000 plants
Maggie's Leeds measures 462 sq m (4,972 sq ft) and consists of two floors, plus a rooftop garden area
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Maggie's Leeds measures 462 sq m (4,972 sq ft) and consists of two floors, plus a rooftop garden area
Maggie's Leeds is located in St. James’s University Hospital in Leeds, England, on an awkward sloping site that posed construction challenges
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Maggie's Leeds is located in St. James’s University Hospital in Leeds, England, on an awkward sloping site that posed construction challenges
The interior design maximizes light and ventilation and makes use of natural materials like sustainably-sourced timber and cork
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The interior design maximizes light and ventilation and makes use of natural materials like sustainably-sourced timber and cork
Maggie's Leeds is mostly constructed from sustainably forested spruce, a material that will expand and contract with the seasons
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Maggie's Leeds is mostly constructed from sustainably forested spruce, a material that will expand and contract with the seasons
Maggie's Leeds' exterior is covered in greenery, though the interior also features a number of plants too
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Maggie's Leeds' exterior is covered in greenery, though the interior also features a number of plants too
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Many of Heatherwick Studio's recent projects have incorporated significant greenery, including the impressive Eden and under-construction Little Island. The firm's latest building continues this approach and is conceived as three oversized greenery-filled planters. It provides people living with cancer, and their families, a pleasant environment to receive support.

Maggie's Leeds is located in St. James's University Hospital in England, and is the charity's 26th center (previous centers have involved other big names like Zaha Hadid and Foster + Partners). It's located just a short walk from the hospital's oncology ward.

The 462 sq m (4,972 sq ft) building is partly made from prefabricated glued laminated timber (glulam) and was squeezed onto an awkward sloping site that posed some challenges during the construction process.

"The road running along the site presented a challenge for the building's construction – as the main ambulance route, it could not be disrupted by months of heavy vehicles," explains the press release. "The team designed a structure that could be built off-site and assembled quickly on a concrete slab and retaining wall with minimal disruption. The entire building superstructure was manufactured in Switzerland and fixed together on site in just eight weeks. These are supported by glulam fins, whose modulations give the feeling of trunks rising up from the ground to support the gardens overhead. The structure is mostly made of sustainably forested spruce, a material that will expand and contract with the seasons, as if alive."

Maggie's Leeds measures 462 sq m (4,972 sq ft) and consists of two floors, plus a rooftop garden area
Maggie's Leeds measures 462 sq m (4,972 sq ft) and consists of two floors, plus a rooftop garden area

Its overall design is defined by a group of three counseling rooms which are likened to oversized planters by Heatherwick Studio. These enclose a central kitchen and shared social spaces, such as a library and exercise room.

Large operable windows and the building's placement are calculated to maximize ventilation and daylight inside. The decor is clean and light, making good use of the uncovered timber, and the firm also created two engineered timber and cork tables inside that are inspired by the building's design.

Both the interior and exterior of Maggie's Leeds has significant greenery, with plants and shrubs placed around the building and on top of it. Its rooftop garden was created by landscape designers Balston Agius and features local species of plants, alongside evergreens for the winter months. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the care of the 23,000 bulbs and 17,000 plants.

Source: Heatherwick Studio

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