The design scheme for Maggie’s at The Royal Marsden has been conceived to complement the excellent services of the hospital, providing a calm oasis set in a peaceful garden – somewhere to escape to and take strength from. It has been designed from the inside out, its shell dictated by the functions and activities contained within. Its mission is to offer a place of respite for those in need, a range of comfortable, private spaces for quiet reflection nestled alongside welcoming communal areas that help visitors seeking connection and support.
The building is formed of five escalating volumes – clad in terracotta and glazed in graduating shades of red from deep carmine to translucent coral – that wrap around a central courtyard. Avoiding institutional corridors, the interior comprises a series of overlapping spaces of different heights, scales and character hosting a range of activities, centred around the lightfilled double-height space of the communal kitchen.
From this hub, the visitor can see out all around, either directly into the courtyard or into the garden via different vantages offered by the windows, visible from the kitchen, in surrounding rooms. The use of materials with tactile and complex qualities such as Douglas Fir, Birch ply and Harris Tweed, along with built in furniture pieces containing art, objects and books, creates a relaxed, domestic environment and the balcony above maximises views and fosters a sense of community. Nothing is fixed or defined, the space and its finishes encouraging visitors to take time to drift, daydream and explore.
The design prioritises daylight and transparency. Externally its fan-like shape has been dictated by the movement of the sun, allowing it to enter the building throughout the day and animate it through the interplay of light and shadow. Staggering the volumes in height provided further opportunities to add clerestory windows (the ones that are high up) And, to create views of the garden and sky, and we punctured the private counselling rooms with skylights. Looking from inside to out, long views and glass walls create a strong relationship with the specially commissioned landscape all around.
The garden has been designed by landscape architect Piet Oudolf and it links the centre to the leafy neighbourhood around it. Most importantly, it has been conceived as an oasis to filter out the noise and intensity of the adjacent hospital.
During the design process of the building, AB Rogers Design searched for a material that had come from the earth, had richness, and could be flexible. For this reason, the new Maggie’s Centre building at Royal Marsden in south London is clad in bright red tailor-made terracotta tiles to be at once different from and sensitive to the houses in the area, giving the building a sympathetic skin. The great creativity of cladding is that could move seamlessly from the horizontal to the vertical, accommodating radiused corners.
The tiles, manufactured by Palagio Engineering, have double firing for glazed edges. Also, the ceramic pieces were extruded and glazed in six different shades of red from a deeper ‘carmine’ to a translucent ’coral’.
In order to further express the materiality and handcrafted nature of the terracotta cladding, the architects and the manufacturer worked with extraordinary illustrator Sara Fanelli, who designed a series of hand-marked tattoos, placed on the ceramics – after they were fired and before they were glazed –.
The Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres Trust
Ab Rogers, Ernesto Bartolini, Cameron Short, Ciriaco Castro, Dimitris Stamatakis, Elizabeth Glickfeld, Ketan Lad, Lucie Hepton, Lucie Reuter, Luo Man, Phillipa Wyatt, Rina Kim, Sabrina Summer, Sándor Ambrus, Satoru Nakanishi
Structural Engineering: Milk
Structural Steelwork: Apex Steel Structures
Facade and curtain walling: Prism Architectural
Civil engineering: Wareham and Associates
Planning Consulting: Iceni Projects
Energy Consulting: Elmhurst Energy
Landscape Design: Piet Oudolf
Illustrations: Sara Fanelli
Sculpture: Stephenie Bergman
Performance artist in residence: Elin Eyborg Lund
Sir Robert McAlpine
JP Dunn Construction
17 Cotswold Rd, Sutton SM2 5NG, United Kingdom