Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre
Ronald Lu & Partners
Gehry Partners, LLP
Location: Tuen Mun
Client: Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centre Foundation
Design Architect: Gehry Partners, LLP
Awards: 2014 HKILA Design Awards, Merit
The Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre located in the gardens of Tuen Mun Hospital was the first Maggie’s Caring Cancer Centre to be established outside the UK. Like all the other Maggie’s Centres, it was created in memory of Maggie Keswick Jencks who died of cancer in 1995, to support and empower those affected by, living through or dying from cancer. Through thoughtful architectural design the centres seek to provide an open, welcoming and calm environment offering free support, professional help and, most importantly, a caring community for people with cancer and their families.
The centre, designed in collaboration with Gehry Partners, stands within a grove of trees at the end of the hospital’s long lawn. Its garden landscape provides a calm, natural environment for its users and visitors. Despite its modest scale, the centre features significant design ambitions, among them combining traditional pavilion design with a modern aesthetic and creating a series of spaces that are both calm and functional.
The centre comprises a series of pavilions that continuously flow between interior and exterior spaces. The interior rooms fold open onto ponds and surrounding gardens. The building itself is also a bridge over a pond that provides reflected views of nearby mountains.
A quiet library room is accessed by a further bridge across this pond, and the garden is partially walled to shelter it from surrounding roads. With its human-scaled spaces within a green landscape rich with wildlife, the Maggie’s Centre provides both its users and visitors a functional place of support and quiet dignity.
One of the centre’s biggest construction challenges was its complex roof. The choice of timber for the structure was unusual given Hong Kong’s humidity, heavy rains and seasonal typhoons. Ensuring water proofing and tightness were the main difficulties that needed to be overcome in its design.
The building is best experienced from the inside. The complex geometry of its roofs translates into unusually shaped skylights and clerestories that shape the landscapes seen through them. At the centre’s heart stands its kitchen, an open space from which all its other closed and semi-private areas radiate outwards like spokes. As well as its library, those areas include a multi-purpose function room used for yoga and recitals, an administrative office for the centre’s six full-time staff and three consultation rooms.
The concept of natural healing that runs through the building is emphasised by the way in which the centre interconnects with its surroundings, while the use of bright colours compliments its sunlit interior, immersing patients in a cheerful and inspirational environment.
Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre
(Credit: Ronald Lu & Partners/ Gehry Partners, LLP)