The healing powers of nature have been put to good use in the recently completed Maggie’s Oldham. London-based architecture studio dRMM completed this cross-laminated timber building, which is one of the United Kingdom’s many Maggie’s Centers that provide free practical, emotional, and social support for people with cancer. Nature surrounds the light-filled building both inside and out – from the garden that the center floats above to the tree that grows through the building.
Built on the grounds of an NHS cancer hospital in Oldham, the recently completed Maggie’s Center is the first permanent structure of its kind built of sustainable hardwood cross-laminated timber. The architects write: “In wood there is hope and warmth, its use at Maggie’s Oldham is part of a bigger design intention to reverse the norms of hospital architecture, where institutionalised environments can leave patients dispirited.” All the surfaces show off the natural timber finish and the thermally modified tulipwood cross-laminated timber was carefully detailed to bring out its natural beauty. Cut-offs from the CLT fabrication process were recycled for use in the slatted ceiling.
To lift the spirits of whoever comes by, Maggie’s Oldham greets visitors with airy, light-filled spaces and unexpected views towards the garden below, the sky above, and out to the Pennine horizon. Large windows with American white oak frames let in copious amounts of natural light. The minimalist boxy building is elevated on slender columns above a garden framed by pine, birch, and tulip poplar trees. A tree grows up through the building at its heart, creating a central oasis that brings nature inside. The use of timber, rather than cold metal, complements the greenery and gives the building a sense of warmth. Wood fiber insulation is used for a breathable healthy environment.
Images © Alex de Rijke