Maggie's already has 26 health centres in the UK and their most recent project in Leeds was built in the grounds of St. James's University Hospital, popularly known as Jimmy's. The chosen location was the last piece of green space available and this was fully reflected in the architectural gem created here by Heatherwick Studio. The green roof garden supported by the beautifully vaulted wooden arches is also the attraction of the estate.
The Duchess of Cornwall, also known as Camilla Parker-Bowles or the wife Prince Charles, dedicates much of her time to supporting various health and welfare charities. The recently completed centre Maggie's Leeds is the newest addition to her list of patronages. The organisation offers free advice on both practical and psychological matters to cancer patients. The founder's philanthropic vision was and is to ensure that patients can still retain the joy of life, and thanks to the efforts of London-based design agency Heatherwick Studio, this project in Leeds will succeed in that brilliantly. Architecture and design have a great influence on how we feel. Where other health centres focus on a more clinical look, Studio Heatherwick chose just the opposite. The intended goal was a relaxed Zen environment. Entering without fear of thresholds and at your own rhythm in a quiet inviting atmosphere. Importants aspects here are the use of natural materials, softly subdued light and open spaces that invite both patients and visitors to come together or just contemplate.
Inspiring for other health centres, but also for architecture in general.
Innovative to this project is the roof garden, designed by Balston Agius' renowned landscape architects. This garden encourages visitors to use their green fingers by taking care of the 17,000 plants and 23,000 plant bulbs. The British Thomas Heatherwick, founder and inspirer of the studio of the same name, is known for his inventiveness. With his unusual approach within the rules of architecture, he once again left his mark. He always departs from the needs of the client or the project and adapts his architectural style here. Unconventional, but here the end justifies the means.
Moreover, these means are all ecological. For example, the design team opted for energy-efficient techniques such as the use of lime plaster that provides natural ventilation. All rooms are prefabricated and even the tables are made of cork. The entire centre is based on three large-scale planters, each with an adjoining consultation area. A huge advantage is that patients and visitors can also use the library and fitness room. Even the piano invites to be played. The ideal environment for every patient. This should be a reference point for all health centres, but also in general this is an enormously inspiring piece of architecture.
Images courtesy of Heatherwick Studio