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Maggie’s Centre By Designed By Sir Norman Foster Set To Open

Jill Burdett on a lovely building: but is it in the right place

Written by . Published on April 8th 2014.

Maggie’s Centre By Designed By Sir Norman Foster Set To Open

A MAGGIE'S Centre, designed by Sir Norman Foster, for the Christie Hospital site, is set to go ahead from planners on Thursday.

We are delighted to be designing a new Maggie's Centre in Manchester - this project has a particular personal significance, as I was born in the city

The building, a delicate single storey of timber and glass with covered verandahs will sit in gardens designed by landscape designer Dan Pearson on a plot which is currently a car park.

Set up as a charity by Maggie Keswick Jencks before her death in 1995 the centre’s which bear her name are designed to be places of restorative calm and companionship -  a welcome contrast to the often harsh hospital environment where the medical treatment is administered.

There are 17 such centres already open in the UK and abroad, all the work of the world’s leading architects, Jencks’ belief being that the design of a building, its space and its energy, can have a dramatic effect on its users.

It’s hard to argue against such positive sentiments and such a high profile project.

But while applauding the principle, Withington Civic Society feels that fundamentally this centre is in the wrong place.

It argues that the hospital site is already heavily developed and would not be able to cope with the 60,000 visitors expected.

It says the hospital already has inadequate car parking and no transport assessment has been done for the centre. It is worried about security and the loss of mature trees and suggests a more accessible site – not necessarily next to the hospital – should be found.

A strategic planning framework for the entire Christie site is due to be published later this year and a Green Transport policy implemented to try and get staff out of cars and using alternative transport but officers feel that Maggie’s should get the nod and have recommended approval ahead of the framework.

As for Lord Foster he is delighted to be giving something back to his home area.

He said: “We are delighted to be designing a new Maggie's Centre in 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."

Pearson’s plans for the grounds include a working glass house, internal courtyards and to the south a pool and moving water to provide a calm space for reflection.

Deep canopies over the open terraces will give some shelter from the elements and hopefully allow people to enjoy the sensory gardens in most weathers.

Lord Foster explained: “The colours and sensory experience of nature will become part of the Centre through micro gardens and internal courtyards, which relate to the different spaces within the building.”

To build Maggie’s at The Christie they need to raise £6m - £5m before they can start building.

When completed it will employ ten staff offering a range of support from relaxation and stress management to benefits advice and nutrition workshops.

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AnonymousApril 9th 2014.

It's Lord Foster.....not Sir

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousApril 9th 2014.

Technically it's Lord, Sir Norman Foster of Thames Bank of Reddish in the County of Greater Manchester

DavidApril 9th 2014.

Technically it's Lord Non Dom.Given as he gave up his seat House of Lords to keep his non dom tax status.

April 11th 2014.

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