The new Maggie's Centre Barts is officially underway after a ground breaking ceremony was held by Steven Holl Architects last week. The center, only the second Maggie's in London, will be located adjacent to the historical St. Bartholomew's Hospital, which was established in Smithfield during the 12th Century. According to the architects, the center "is envisioned as a vessel within a vessel within a vessel." The inner vessel will be of perforated bamboo, which will be surrounded by a structure of branching concrete, and an outer layer of matte white glass with coloured glass fragments.
The outer glass layer, inspired by the historical roots of St. Bart’s, will recall the “neume notation” of Medieval music of the 13th century. “The word neume originates from the Greek pnevma, which means ‘vital force.’ It suggests a ‘breath of life’ that fills oneself with inspiration like a stream of air, the blowing of the wind. The outer glass layer is organized in horizontal bands like a musical staff,” says Steven Holl Architects.
The three-story center will have an open curved interior staircase, with the open spaces vertically lined in perforated bamboo. The colored glass of the exterior walls will filter light into the building, allowing the glowing interior light to change throughout the day and seasons. A roof garden and meeting space on the top floor provides space for yoga, Tai Chi, and other activities.
Maggie’s Centres, of which there are 18 in the UK, offer social support for people with cancer and their families. There is currently only one Maggie’s Centre in London and the new building will allow them to extend their services even further across London. The center is set to open in late 2016.