Thursday, 7 March 2019

Places that make life better by design > the Maggie's Centre

The right sort of natural environment can really help recuperation and provide real support:
Futures Forum: Landscaping for Health
Futures Forum: Healing by Design

The Maggie's Centres have provided just such places: 
Futures Forum: Building Hope: The Maggie's Centres
Futures Forum: The Maggie's Centres: creating 'spaces of calm and light to help support patients and their families'

The latest newsletter from the Design Council looks at one of the most established centres: 

The architecture of hope: Maggie's Centre, Oldham

Places that make life better by design

In the corridor of an NHS hospital in Edinburgh a big idea was born. It would change the type of care given and support received for anyone affected by cancer.

Maggie Keswick Jencks was given three months to live and then asked politely by the nurse if she would wait in the corridor as other patients needed to be seen. Being thrust into miserable surroundings directly after learning traumatic and life-changing news led her to devote her final months to inverting the experience of cancer patients and their families.

Maggie believed that a physical space can positively impact the emotional wellbeing of humans - even when your world has been turned upside down. She envisioned a space where people view themselves differently as individuals under unusually difficult circumstances, not as cancer victims. A space with as much natural light as possible, with views out onto nature and the sky. A space that would feel safe and welcoming. A space that raises spirits and restores humanity.

The centre would help visitors to find their own best way of coping with the disease. There was to be no ‘right way’. A Maggie’s Centre would provide free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. This would range from a cup of tea you could make yourself in a friendly kitchen to attending weekly support groups led by a clinical psychologist.

In November 1996, the first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh and Maggie’s dream become a reality. There are now 20 Maggie’s Centres in the UK which receive over 200,000 visitors per year. Most of them have been built in the grounds of hospitals with cancer departments, and by some of the most internationally renowned and prestigious architects.

This is not architecture for architecture’s sake. These are places that are making people’s lives better by design. 


The architecture of hope: Maggie's Centre, Oldham

And here is a beautiful video of the place:
Maggie’s Centre | dRMM Architects on Vimeo

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