Andrew Bateman, Page/Park Architecture: “Maggie's Glasgow and Maggie's Highlands differ subtly but fundamentally from one another. Maggie's Glasgow is a conversion and addition onto an historical gatehouse at Western Hospital. Designed originally in 1861 in ‘Baronial’ style, it opens up now as a highly flexible space filled with natural light. Maggie's Highlands, on the other hand, is a new construction incorporating some highly sophisticated biologic concepts in both its architectural and landscaping design. Both, though, had identical programmatic requirements: create homely places where people with cancer, or involved in any way with the disease, can feel welcome and relaxed in a friendly, understanding environment.

“Both buildings have an open plan that is nevertheless quite intimate. You can wander into the kitchen for a snack, sit at the dining table and chat with staff, and enjoy the comfort of lounge areas with focal fireplaces.

“At Highlands, which just opened this spring, we wanted to get Charles Jencks involved from the start. He is the landscape architect whose late wife Maggie is memorialized by these centers. He is known for telling scientific stories through the metaphor of landscape and, at his home, has his ‘Garden of Cosmic Speculation,’ illustrating the evolution of the cosmos. At Maggie's Highlands, we developed a design that seeks to represent the various stages of cell division, or cell mitosis. Two grassed mounds with spiraling white-gravel paths emerge from one spiral, the building. Flash tips of grass and gravel between the two mounds represent cellular communication. As Charles has explained, ‘These constant signals, and the harmony between them, are what keep the body healthy and in balance.’
Photo © Shannon Tofts Photography

“The building is conceived as an inversion of one of the mounds, with its own spiraling exterior clad in green pre-patinated copper. In the connecting theme of cell mitosis, the building represents the anaphase of cell subdivision, and the mounds the telophase.

“These spiraling forms are echoed in the interior of the building, with its curving walls and open plan that can be flexibly subdivided by curving sliding screens. These screens are an innovation we're particularly pleased with. With completely open views to the exterior and the flexible flow of space within, with none of the rigid doors and corridors found in institutional hospital space, we believe we've created a space providing ease and comfort for users of the building. If we've done our job, you find that the spirit within you is uplifted, and you feel that something is happening in this space that informs you how you feel about yourself. At the opening of this facility, I chatted with a patient who said that he didn't think they needed to offer counseling in this facility because the building does that for them. For me, that was the ultimate compliment and, hopefully, represents what has been achieved with this building.”