Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres | Dundee, Scotland

Dec 31, 2003



Featured ProjectMaggie’s Dundee
LocationDundee, Scotland, UK
Design FirmsGehry Partners, James F Stephen Architects
Structural EngineerARUP Scotland
Landscape DesignArabella Lennox-Boyd
ContractorHBG Constructions
Cost£1.3 million/$2.1 million USD
Area2500 sq ft/225 sq m
Occupancy150 PEOPLE

Maggie’s centre, Ninewells, Dundee, UK, Frank Gehry designed building Photo Credit: Ydam/Wikipidea

The role of client was one that Charles was unfamiliar with, despite being a preeminent architectural critic. However, his industry knowledge allowed him to draw on years of connections to the world’s best architects who deployed their talents in the service of creating uplifting environments. Unlike most projects, the brief for a Maggie’s Centre is fairly open-ended but is guided by a simple principle: good design can make a difference in the lives of cancer patients.

“My kids, who are 10 and 12, have found it an easy place to visit and to understand what’s happening to Dad and lots of other people,” says Bruce Tasker, a patient at the Dundee, Scotland Center, designed by Frank Gehry. “They’re not troubled by the fact that it’s a cancer caring centre, whereas in the hospital ward they’d be intimidated by the formality, unfamiliarity and sterility.”

The locations are built around a central kitchen as a gathering space, much like a home. “The concept of visitors gathering around the kitchen table is very much alive,” says Jim Carr, a patient at Maggie’s in Fife, Wales, designed by Zaha Hadid. “It is there that people share their stories, hopes and fears . . . and food. This is a strangely intimate experience.”

Creating a connection to nature is also an important part of the Dundee Centre, which is fashioned after Brochs, the stone circular dwellings dotting Scotland’s highlands. The low-lying center in Dundee incorporates a two-story tower that overlooks a garden labrynth of rocks along an immaculately trimmed lawn, offering a sweeping view across the Tay Estuary.

“The [tower’s] ship deck on the south side is my favorite place to pass time, think, worry, feel good, feel bad, lose myself,” says Tasker. “It’s intimately connected to the building and keeps me in touch with people inside as it’s overlooked by the large kitchen and social area windows.“ Tasker adds that it makes him feel like he is flying getting to be high above the trees and “on top of the world.”


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