Maggie’s London is the sixth Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre opened in the UK since 1996. It was commissioned by a charity set up in the name of landscape artist, Maggie Keswick Jencks, who died of cancer in 1995. As with several other Maggie’s Centres it is deliberately set in the grounds of a major hospital offering specialist oncology diagnosis and treatment. The building won the Stirling Prize for Architecture in 2009.
Maggie Keswick and her husband, the architectural theorist Charles Jencks, planned in outline the architectural vision and programme before she died. Maggie’s London is the work of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.
It is a small, beautifully crafted drop-in centre for people suffering from cancer, set in the grounds of the high-rise Charing Cross Hospital. The centre is domestic in scale and design at 370 square metres. At its centre is a large open-plan kitchen area and hearth, where people can gather around a large table to drink tea and coffee, and most importantly, to talk.
The two-storey pavilion building also contains several small quiet rooms on the ground floor which may be used for a range of workshops, groups and individual sessions as well as a library and office space. There are upstairs balcony areas, as well as a small courtyard garden. The building is shielded from its noisy urban surroundings by a garden, which encloses it within a line of birch trees and forecourt designed by Dan Pearson Studio.
Despite having to follow a detailed architectural brief and programme common to all Maggie’s Centres, the imaginative design of the building expresses an almost joyful - and certainly unique - celebration of colour and form. This contrasts strongly with the institutional style and form of the main hospital building - exactly what its commissioners and designers intended.