RIBA Yorkshire 2022 Award Winners
Awards won: RIBA Yorkshire Regional Award and RIBA Yorkshire Building of the Year 2022
Maggie's Yorkshire sits on a very un-presupposing piece of land. In the heart of St James's University Hospital campus in Leeds, next to a multi-storey car park and the main ambulance route through the hospital, the latest in a line of Maggie’s cancer support centres has been born.
When approaching the exterior of the building it is immediately apparent that this is no ordinary building, submerged in tree and shrub planting with cascades of foliage running down its glazed façades.
The building addresses the storey change in level across the site by sprouting a series of timber canopies (three in all) like giant toadstools, which add further to the natural wilderness of the planting.
External materials of whitewashed timber, glass and dark bronze coloured glazing and roof edging, all combine to provide a convincing, non-threatening and friendly aesthetic, the antithesis of many of the adjoining hospital buildings themselves.
Upon entering the building via the gently sloping path, you are struck instantly by the sense of calm and the peaceful atmosphere within the generous open spaces which form the interior.
Organised around three cores, which form the trunks to the canopy structures above, a series of generous plywood staircases lead you to each level, arriving at open lounge areas of varying sizes for individual or group discussions. The cores themselves, house a series of private counselling rooms each varying in size and decoration, but all emphasising a domestic and homely feel, to put the patients at ease.
As with all Maggie’s Centres, the kitchen is the hub and heart space of the building, encouraging staff, patients, and visitors to make their own cup of tea and sit down for a chat at one of the gorgeous bespoke cork kitchen tables.
The entire building is cleverly filled with a variety of high-quality furniture and planting, using bespoke shelving between the structural canopy ribs, to reinforce the domestic and homely feel.
The use of materials internally is practical and warm, with superb attention to detail. The cocoa coloured floor screed is separated by the thinnest of brass strips, dividing the perfectly cut perimeter band of giant plywood which forms a sinuous border that flows around the perimeter of each space. Even the aggregate to the exposed concrete retaining walls which form each of the principal levels has a carefully chosen hue, which blends perfectly with the overall palette of materials and furnishings.
Maggie’s as a charity, are well known for commissioning high profile architectural practices with a clear intention to not only provide an oasis of calm for cancer patients but at the same time, furthering architectural debate.
In Maggie’s Yorkshire, this approach has once again been followed. And it has paid off, in abundance.
It would be very easy to take a generous budget, yet squander it, making grand gestures that aren’t practical or sustainable. It would also be easy to achieve a practical building that works for its client but has no soul.
To the benefit of all the patients who visit this Maggie’s, to all the staff who work there, and to anyone lucky enough to visit, the architect has created a very special building, which addresses the client’s brief with full marks but moreover, has created a building with real heart and soul.