Maggie’s St Bartholomew’s

The Central London flagship of the Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres Trust. Maggie’s Barts provides free practical and emotional support for people living with cancer. This project is a continuation of our relationship with Steven Holl Architects, following on from the success of the Seona Reid Building at the Glasgow School of Art.

Date

2017

Client

Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres Trust (Maggie’s)

Value

Undisclosed

The building site is in the centre of London, adjacent to the large courtyard of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. Founded in Smithfield in the 12th century, the hospital is the oldest in London and was started at the same time as the St. Bartholomew the Great Church. Layers of history characterize this unique site, connecting deeply to the Medieval culture of London. 

While most all of the realized Maggie’s Centres have been horizontal buildings, the centre at St Bartholomew’s is more vertical, sitting on the historically charged site. It replaces a pragmatic 1960s brick structure adjacent to a 17th century stone structure by James Gibbs, holding the “Great Hall” and the famous Hogarth staircase.

The Maggie’s Centre at St Barts was envisioned by Steven Holl Architects as a “vessel within a vessel within a vessel.” The structure is a branching concrete frame, the inner layer is bamboo and the outer layer is matte white glass with coloured glass fragments recalling “neume notation” of Medieval music of the 13th century.

The three story centre has an open curved staircase integral to the concrete frame with open spaces vertically lined in bamboo. The glass facade geometry, like a musical “staff” is in horizontal strips 90cm wide, which follow the geometry of the main stair along the north facade, while lifting up with clear glass facing the main square, marking the main front entry. There is a second entry on the west opening to the extended garden of the adjacent church. 

The building tops out in a public roof garden with flowering trees open to a large room for yoga, Tai Chi, meetings etc. The interior character of this building is shaped by coloured light washing the floors and walls, changing by the time of day and season. Interior lighting is organized to allow the coloured lenses together with the translucent white glass of the façade to present a new, joyful, glowing presence on this corner of the great square of St. Barts Hospital.

For further information please see the website of Steven Holl Architects 

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