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Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre, Edinburgh

Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre, Edinburgh

Our project for the first Maggie's Centre was completed in 1996. An extension was commissioned five years after and completed in 2001. Maggie's Centre at the Western General Hospital is the inspiration of the late Maggie Jencks - her vision was for a place cancer sufferers could go to get help and solace as well as access to independent and alternative sources of advice and treatment. Activities range from single and group counselling, beauty therapy, yoga and relaxation but above all the centre is a social meeting place where experiences can be shared.

The brief was, to a degree, indeterminate, and developed through close liaison with the client. The design aimed to create firstly an atmosphere of domesticity (in contrast to the institutional nature of many National Health Service buildings) and secondly, to create as much accommodation as possible within the limited volume available and to make it transformable in its spatial division; the centre is capable of being combined into a series of progressively larger spaces or divided into individual rooms.

Externally the construction is viewed as a building within a building with a new inner language of steel, lead, glass, glass blocks and timber sliding behind stone. When the extension was commissioned this existing language was extracted in both directions to continue the language.

Since it opened in November 1997 Maggie's Centre attracted a large number of visitors and friends and the range of activities available widened considerably. During that time the need had become apparent for a series of meeting rooms for larger groups or more strenuous activities.

The additional accommodation required two large meeting rooms, a consulting room for visiting therapists and a permanent office. While the new extension doubles the floor area of the centre, it is designed to preserve a domestic scale. All the activities of the new area are visible from the original centre space, which still functions as the front door to the centre.

The extension is in two independent directions to the west and to the north east. The western extension is two storey with administration on the top floor and additional consulting room on the lower floor. The extension to the north east is conceived as an independent but linked building to the original. This is a single volume which can be divided unequally and extends with a rendered retaining wall along its northern boundary to form a terrace on the eastern side and a boundary to the garden on the western side. Again, the materials are the same as the other extension with a lead roof, steel framing and Douglas Fir framed windows. The monopitch roof is designed to admit south light into north facing rooms whilst its sinusoidal form deliberately avoids any conversation with the roof pitch of the existing building.

Details of the proposed extension can be seen at the end of the thumbnail images.

Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres website can be found at

Other Details
Architects Richard Murphy, Ed Hollis, Oliver Chapman
Engineers David Narro Associates
Contractor Peter Walker
Colour Consultant Linda Green, Studio Green
Architects Richard Murphy, Matt Bremner, Ian Strakis, Claire Gaffney, Keith Ross
Engineers David Narro Associates
Quantity Surveyor Ross & Morton
Colour Consultant Linda Green, Studio Green
Contractor Reywood Construction
Construction Cost £345,000 (Total)
Client Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Care Trust

1996 EAA Conservation Award
1997 RIBA / Department of Health National Award
1997 RIBA Stirling Shortlist
1997 RIBA Award

  • 30 Apr 2010Cutting-edge New Look For Cancer Care At Maggie'
  • 30 Apr 2010An Architectural Design For - Architecture
  • March 2010Big Hug For The Wonderful Maggie'
  • Mar 2008Maggies' FriendsThe Herald Magazine
  • March 2008Why Are The World's Best Architects Drawn To Maggie's Centres?The Herald Magazine
  • Nov 2006Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre, Fife - Does It Live Up To Expectations?Architecture Today Number 173
  • Sept 2001Handled With Care - A J Building StudyArchitects' Journal
  • April / May 2001The Gehry EffectLivewire
  • Feb 2001Somewhere To Come Home To, Building HealthBuilding Design
  • July 1999Building Humanity Back Into HospitalsThe Scotsman
  • Sept 1999A Vision Of The FutureEvening News
  • Dec 1998Building Bravery - My Favourite BuildingProspect Magazine
  • Nov 1998Maggies Centre Lancet City Wins Top Award - CccEvening News
  • May 1998Maggies CentreSouth East Asia Building
  • April 1998Maggies CentreScottish Fields
  • Dec 1997Healthy Building SyndromeScotland On Sunday
  • 6 Nov 1997Stirling PrizeArchitects' Journal
  • 6 Nov 1997Murphy Carries Scottish Hopes - Stirling PrizeProject Scotland
  • 2 Nov 1997Design & Conquer - Stirling PrizeSunday Times
  • Nov 1997Stirling Short ListBuilding Design
  • 9 Oct 1997Four In Race For Top PrizeProject Scotland
  • Sept 1997Patients Support Centre In EdinburghDetail Magazine
  • Mar 1997Comfortable SurroundingsProspect
  • Mar 1997Murphy's Centre For Cancer CareArchitects' Journal
  • Mar 1997Dealing With Cancer In A Relaxed WaySunday Times
15 Old Fishmarket Close, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 1RW | Tel 0131 220 6125 |