maggie’s :: fife
Katie | December 19, 2012
An imposing, black, spiky building is not what you expect when you think of a cancer caring centre – and so Maggie’s Fife has always fascinated me. It was Zaha Hadid’s first building in the UK and it is possibly the most striking of the Maggie’s centres.
Dr John Wilson, Consultant Physician at Fife Acute Hospital explains, “A casual observer might think, from the outside, that Maggie’s Fife was a bit dark and slightly forbidding, but from the inside it is almost the opposite. It’s light, it’s curved and has got an outlook with lots of natural light coming in. In my more fanciful moments, I’ve thought that might be a metaphor. Cancer, when it looms in your life, looks pretty black and forbidding, but it looks different from the inside. The building in a sense has a parallel with the cancer journey.”
Zaha Hadid said, “The idea for the building is that it’s like a fold – one singular surface that just wraps around those inside the centre. When we first visited the site, we saw a beautiful hollow, full of trees. I understand it was an old open cast mine that had been reclaimed by nature. It was immediately obvious that we should place the building here – hovering over the edge of the hollow – allowing light and nature to flood into every corner of the centre.”
“In a very modest way, our design for Maggie’s Fife is about creating a space that empowers people and offers them an environment that isn’t threatening. When I first visited the Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh, I began to see how people were actually using it – it was very emotional.”
“I knew Maggie and we shared deep understanding of how environments can help enhance personal wellbeing. I wanted to do this building as an architecture to make people feel good, where they can talk and feel human.”
I really like the idea of a building that’s got a tough outer shell and a warm friendly underbelly – it’s somewhere that protects people from what’s going on outside, in the hospital and in the rest of their lives, somewhere they can come and feel safe. It reminds me of a feisty friend, who you know has always got your back.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
Declaration of Interest: I am very privileged to on a freelance basis as a writer for Maggie’s, an incredible charity who provide emotional, practical and social support for people with cancer and their families and friends from stunning buildings set within the grounds of specialist cancer hospitals. These are my opinions; not those of Maggie’s.