U.K. charity Maggie’s has expanded its free cancer support system with the completion of Maggie’s Leeds Centre, a gorgeous, nature-inspired respite open for people who have cancer and their families and friends. Designed by Heatherwick Studio, Maggie’s Leeds Centre follows biophilic design principles with its natural materials palette and incorporation of lush greenery around, on top of and inside the building. The 462-square-meter center is the charity’s 26th center completed in the U.K. and is located within the campus of St. James’ University Hospital in Leeds.
Set on a lushly planted sloped site, Maggie’s Leeds Centre was conceptualized as a trio of oversized planters with lush green roofs with native plantings — landscape designers Balston Agius designed and modeled the roofs after Yorkshire woodlands — and rounded edges with timber fins. Each planter-like pavilion houses a counseling room; the pavilions surround a centrally located kitchen — the “heart” of the center — as well as additional social spaces for group activities, including a library and exercise room.
“Our aim was to build a home for people affected by cancer that would be soulful and welcoming, unlike other typical clinical environments,” Thomas Heatherwick explained. “By only using natural, sustainable materials and immersing the building in thousands of plants, there was a chance for us to make an extraordinary environment capable of inspiring visitors with hope and perseverance during their difficult health journeys.”
In addition to the lush landscape — visitors are encouraged to help take care of the 23,000 bulbs and 17,000 plants — Maggie’s Leeds Centre brings the outdoors in with large windows, indoor plants and an emphasis on natural and “healthy” materials. The building structure was built from a prefabricated and sustainably sourced spruce timber system, while lime plaster helps naturally regulate internal humidity. The building has also been carefully oriented to take advantage of natural ventilation. The center is currently open and follows recommended social distancing and cleaning measures.
Photography by Hufton+Crow via Heatherwick Studio