Innovative techniques complete new centre

Snohetta and Halliday Fraser Munro's design for Maggie's offers sanctuary in Aberdeen

by Sian 29 October 2013
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    Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres are places of refuge and escape for people dealing with cancer, be they the patient or friends and family members of someone dealing with cancer. Often located near busy NHS buildings, these tranquil centres always have a kitchen table at their core and a number of breakout spaces at the edges so that visitors can gather to openly discuss challenges they may be facing or engage in organised events such as t’ai chi or relaxation courses.

    There are now 16 completed Maggie’s Centres across the UK (plus one in Hong Kong) and the organisation regularly partners with world-renowned architects and designers to devise plans for the centres, with Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers and Rem Koolhaas each completing a volume. Norwegian company Snohetta has now been added to this list, completing a centre in Aberdeen, Scotland with architects Halliday Fraser Munro and construction group Robertson.

    Founding Partner of Snohetta, Kjetil Thorsen explained: “When we were asked to design a Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre in Aberdeen, all senses immediately focused on this magnificent challenge. In a world of architectural commercialism, it has been the most meaningful task to seek employment with spaces, materials and landscapes in the service of psychological and emotional healing processes. Maggie’s continuous and thoughtful effort to provide surroundings of exceptional quality and content for people with cancer diseases affects us deeply as architects, as family and as humans.”

    Constructed in the space of one year (August 12 - August 13), the new centre is now open for business at the Elizabeth Montgomerie Building, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Funding for the project was sourced by the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation (founded by golfer Colin Montgomerie in memory of his mother), the Maggie’s Aberdeen Board and the Press & Journal newspaper. Local contractors and professionals supplied services, materials and equipment free of charge saving an estimated £400,000.

    Using 29km of steel reinforcement and spray concrete, the team has realised a dramatic silhouette for Maggie’s Aberdeen, as Keith Taylor, Regional Managing Director at Robertson details: “From the stunning design through to the unique construction challenges posed, this is a development we have been proud to have been involved with.

    “The structure you can see today is almost identical to the original concept proposed by the architect, which was only possible through our collective enthusiasm for the project and through close collaboration with both Maggie’s and the design team. The construction team adapted a technique normally used to finish tunnels to create a reinforced concrete cage, and we are very pleased with the results - we’re sure this building will become a landmark for Aberdeen.”

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