Buildings have the ability to make us feel safe and comfortable, shelter us from the elements and keep us warm. But can architecture go further than this? Can buildings really affect our mental health and happiness? It appears that the answer is yes.
Those familiar with Quartermile will already know that the task of designing the luxury development fell to the highly acclaimed and award-winning Foster + Partners. A world renowned business, responsible for some of the most illustrious designs in modern architecture, Foster + Partners’ portfolio is an astonishing one that includes everything from the Mexico City International Airport to Apple’s new Campus in California. But perhaps one of the less high profile designs in Foster + Partners’ portfolio is Manchester’s Maggie’s Centre.
Maggie’s Centres are places of great importance for thousands of people around the UK who are diagnosed with cancer each year, offering free practical, emotional and social support.
The first Maggie’s Centre was set up in Edinburgh in 1996 and was named after its founder, Maggie Keswick Jencks. After discovering that she was suffering from advanced-stage cancer, Maggie spent her two remaining years alive ensuring that other sufferers received a new kind of care.
One of the unique traits of Maggie’s Centres across the country is that they are all dedicated to the creation of architectural structures capable of promoting wellbeing in patients. Each beautifully designed centre reflects Maggie’s belief that cancer sufferers should not ‘lose the joy of living in the fear of dying’.
The centres have been designed by a range of renowned architects to create unique spaces that are both welcoming and uplifting. Great architecture is an integral part of the care that each facility offers, helping to bring comfort and joy to patients away from the typical hospital setting.
Maggie’s Manchester Centre, based at the Christie Hospital, is no different. Featuring a stunning collection of micro gardens, internal courtyards, a working greenhouse and shelters where residents can sit outside protected from the elements, it is an eye-catching and inspiring place to relax and develop a deep sense of wellbeing.
The centre itself is comprised of light and comfortable rooms including a library, private areas and exercise rooms, all centred around a large communal area where visitors can gather together. The glass ceilings of the pavilion building are high enough to accommodate a mezzanine level that visitors can use to look out over the beautiful gardens.
Lord Foster himself, whose previous works include ‘The Gherkin’, Hearst Tower in New York and Hong Kong International Airport, has been quoted as saying, ‘I believe in the power of architecture to lift the spirits and help in the process of therapy.’
And as a cancer survivor who was raised in Manchester himself, it seems that designing the Maggie’s Centre was particularly close to his heart. In a recent interview with the Architects Journal, Foster described the importance of his design: “For me [the building] is less about distraction and more about a setting that might be helpful and comforting in a situation where you have heard life-threatening news.”
Lord Foster is also quoted as saying:
“Our aim in Manchester, the city of my youth, was to create a building that is welcoming, friendly and without any of the institutional references of a hospital or health centre – a light-filled, homely space where people can gather, talk or simply reflect.”
Are you a fan of Foster + Partners’ work? Why not explore Quartermile – a development that is as uplifting as it is luxurious. Find out more about the Apartments and how you can make Quartermile your sanctuary in the city.