A cancer support centre designed by the architect Frank Gehry will be officially opened this Thursday (7 March) in Hong Kong. The project, called Maggie’s Hong Kong, is one of 14 such centres built on the grounds of specialist cancer hospitals and the opening will mark the first completed Maggie’s Centre outside of the United Kingdom.
Replacing the current temporary building at Tuen Mun Hospital which has been open since December 2008, the new centre is inspired by Chinese architecture and will be opened by Dr Ko Wing Man, secretary for Food and Health of Hong Kong.
Speaking about the project and the emotions surrounding the design, Frank Gehry said: “The building has feelings which I hope engender community activity, and that it’s comfortable for the patients to be there. It’s respectful of Chinese architecture and motifs. I hope it’s not copying anything Chinese or architectural, but I hope it’s very respectful of them. I was going through the loss of a daughter while I was designing the Centre. I think you sort of suck it up and hope to make something that is soothing and respectful and hopeful. There’s always hope, it’s not a dead end.”
The new centre is situated near the Tuen Mun Hospital oncology unit and contains a series of pavilions which have been arranged to encourage movement between the interior spaces and the landscape. This mix of indoor and outdoor spaces is also evident in the design of the rooms, as many have private terraces overlooking a pond or open out onto the surrounding gardens, which were designed by landscape architect Lily Jencks, the daughter of the founders of Maggie’s Centres. A living and dining area for the public also has views over the ponds and gardens, and will act as the focal point of the building.
Laura Lee, Maggie’s chief executive, said: “This is a very special occasion, not only are we able to provide more help and support for people who are living with cancer in the region but Maggie’s Hong Kong is our first international Centre. Maggie’s proven programme of support will act as an antidote to the isolation and despair of a cancer diagnosis. Frank Gehry’s design will help to facilitate this support, by making people feel safe, inspired and valued. Under one extraordinary roof, Maggie’s will help people to find their way out of the hopelessness of cancer.”
Maggie’s Centre has a reputation for attracting the most illustrious names in architecture, with previous centres designed by the architects Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid. The new Hong Kong centre is the second collaboration between the cancer organisation and Frank Gehry, after he designed Maggie’s Dundee, a cancer centre located in Ninewells Hospital in Scotland.