‘An unprepossessing poise’ ICON Magazine on Maggie’s Oldham - 18-07-2017


Combining elements of a modernist villa, an industrial shed and a wooden cabin, the dRMM co-founder’s cancer care centre has an unprepossessing poise.

Do Maggie’s Centres even need an introduction anymore? There are 19 operational in the UK, two abroad and six are currently in development. The first one was built in 1996 in Edinburgh, a brainchild of Maggie Keswick Jencks, renowned expert in garden design and the late wife of architecture critic Charles Jencks. The centres provide counselling, tea and sympathy for cancer patients, who should not have to suffer clinical, impersonal, artificially-lit waiting rooms and corridors in hospitals, so goes the mission statement. Each centre is unique, and over the years, Maggie’s has managed to secure designs from some of the world’s most well-known architects.

The newest Maggie’s Centre, designed by Alex de Rijke of dRMM, opened a few weeks ago in Oldham’s Royal Hospital in Oldham, Greater Manchester. It is located opposite the Victoria building, which houses the breast care unit, on the edge of the sprawling hospital campus. The site used to be occupied by a mortuary, and sits a few metres below the level of the parking lot, which means that visitors enter the centre by a small bridge. The centre itself is a one-storey, rectangular box, lifted off the ground. Clad in corrugated, thermally treated tulipwood, the exterior is a strange, but entirely successful, medley of references – the crisp proportions of a modernist villa, the frankness of an industrial shed and comforting familiarity of a wooden cabin. As a result, the building assumes an unprepossessing poise on a rather banal and ugly campus.

Read the full article on ICON Magazine’s website here.


Words by Peter Smisek
Photo by Alex de Rijke