Maggie's is a well-established charity. Named after the late Maggie Keswick Jencks, the centres are based on her idea of an alternative environment to a hospital where cancer patients and their families can take time to discuss and learn more about the illness and the situation that the patient and surrounding family and friends may face.
The site was chosen for its visibility and adjacency to the Oncology Department and Breast Institute (BDP Architects). Due to its slopes and existing mature trees it was unlikely to be needed by the hospital for future clinical buildings or extensions. Retention of the trees placed the building in a central clearing adjacent to an access hill road of the campus. The brief for 288 sq m of space is provided in a two storey building on a square plan of 12m x 12m. It is raised up on a half sized square, semi sunken basement set diagonally to the main structure.
The building is entered from the north by a level path and wide bridge from a drop off and parking point on the hill road, the bridge is also accessed by generous wide steps to east and west in the direction of neighbouring departments, making the site itself more permeable.
The ground floor is entered by a small entrance hall which provides good orientation to a visitor. To the left the open office allows staff to notice and greet the visitor (there is no institutional style reception desk) to the right an inviting looking library which acts as a quiet reception room with material to browse. Straight ahead a view of a welcoming kitchen, the heart of a Maggie's Centre and the stairs (and lift) to the first floor.
Various dualities in the brief suggested the square plan be arranged near symmetrically. The kitchen is at the centre of the south half of the plan with two sitting rooms either side. The office balances the library and a loo. Each room leads onto one of three projecting balconies. In section the kitchen is a half level lower that the ground floor so that it enjoys additional ceiling height and the two sitting rooms can visually share its space without overlooking. The kitchen leads directly onto a south-orientated balcony of similar width to the space. Short stairs provide access from the kitchen to the sitting rooms allowing a perimeter circuit of the building.
The first floor is also planned symmetrically around the top lit central stair and lift. A large landing provides seating and desks for studying. There are two consultation rooms, a lie down room, two loos and a large meeting / yoga / exercise room on the south half of the building.
The basement is useful for plant and storage and is accessible by the lift which is arranged so that it can be entered and exited forwards in a wheelchair. The basement acts as a plenum for the heat pump.
The interior furnishings have been designed by Sir Paul Smith, a famous son of Nottingham. The colourful verve, wit and delight is underpinned by a well-researched understanding of Maggie's requirements.