Maggie’s Centre Groningen
The Netherlands will soon have a first Maggie’s Centre, where patients who are suffering from cancer and their family and friends can refer back to for practical, emotional and social support. The assistance starts when the patient has been diagnosed with cancer and continues after the medical treatment. The Maggie’s Centre is located in a park at the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG) in Groningen. Landscape architect Piet Oudolf will design the surrounding landscape. The concept for Maggie’s Centres originally started in Great Britain, when Maggie Keswick Jenks(architecture critic Charles Jencks’ wife) missed a place for questions, anxiety, sadness and hope during her treatment of breast cancer. Since 1996, many famous architecture firms (i.a. OMA, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and more) have designed different kind of centres mainly in the UK.
The aim of this type of a place is to create an environment in which architecture plays an important role in the healing process. It must provide the familiarity of a home. The pleasant environment extends from inside to the surrounding garden outside.
The majority of health facilities in the Netherlands is characterized by an institutional appearance. The essence of a Healing Environment is based on the idea that the environment has influence on the health of people and that a well designed building contributes to the recovery of the patient:
Program: designing for the senses
Maggie’s Centre NL is located at the corner and northside of the UMCG site just outside the citycentre of Groningen. In close consultation with Maggie’s UK, the UMCG composed a program, a system of all kinds of spaces. The design is characterized by contrasts like: extrovert-introvert, open-closed and dark-clear. Inspired by the cloistertypology a system of intimate, informal to inviting collective spaces has been designed, depending on the different moods of the client, a differentiation of atmospheres. The visitor can decide when one needs privacy or social interaction. The visitors must achieve the feeling of control of their lives again. Spaces for Tai Chi, yoga, mindfulness, meditation and councelling also belong to this program. The interior design is not only comforting and protective, but it also provides challenge and optimism: elements as fire (fireplace), sound (acoustic, piano), nature (gardening, view), light and air, material, texture and colour play a role in the design. The integration of the furniture (built-in closets, corners and spots) fully contributes to the homely feeling. The double-height kitchen with a full-glass facade and a view on the waterside is the remarkable heart of the building. The staff is situated at the eastwing on the open corner. From here the staff has a view on the arriving visitors. Besides the ‘Care centre’ the building also has a ‘Research, E-health and education centre’. This part is located at the west wing and has its own entrance. The base of the Maggie’s Centre is a flexible column structure, facilitating every possible modification. The rooms can be linked to eachother or used multifunctionally.
Maggie’s NL has two faces: adjacent to the UMCG the centre has a more closed facade. It’s built up from ornamented brick rosettes and glass partition combined with pierced brickwork. The spaces behind, where advisory and counseling is offered, are provided with natural daylight and the needed privacy. At the same time the sun coming from the south is being excluded. The other face, northeast facade, consists entirely of glass and opens to the environment. The fundamental idea is having the experiences of all seasons. A system of terraces with staggered wooden grating provides a view on the water, which is defined by reed. A system of pergolas protect against the sun and bright daylight, which many visitors can’t bear. The transition between inside and outside is set up by the building itself, therefore it develops naturally.