What’s a Maggie Centre?

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The Design at Riverside Gallery, located at the Waterloo School of Architecture, is now a temporary home to the exhibition <em>Maggie&rsquo;s Centres: A Blueprint for Cancer Care</em>. This will be the only stop in Canada for the show.</p>

First opened at the New York School of Interior Design, the exhibit features photos, models, and blueprints of Maggie’s Centres, which have become an architectural phenomenon in Great Britain.

Maggie’s Centres are meant to supplement hospital care by providing cancer patients an architecturally pleasing place to seek advice and support about their disease.

The centres’ namesake is Maggie Jencks, a Scottish designer and author of The Chinese Garden, who died of cancer in 1995. She left behind blueprints for the first centre in Edinburgh which was completed with the aid of architect Richard Murphy in 1996.  

Maggie’s vision was to create architecturally pleasing centres, to contrast the sterile, fluorescent waiting rooms in hospitals. Maggie’s vision has since become a reality.

“There are currently 17 centres built or under construction,” said Esther Shipmen, curator of Design at Riverside. Locations include one in Hong Kong and another near Barcelona. 

Most architects involved in the centres do their work pro bono. The exhibit features the work of architects Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Piers Gough, Paul Smith, Richard Rogers, and Steven Holl.

“You don’t usually get such a clear-cut case of architecture and landscape architecture involved in social causes,” Shipman said as to why Maggie’s Centres are so unique.

While Shipman hopes Waterloo architecture students will have much to gain from the exhibit, she says the exhibit is truly meant for the Waterloo community at large to enjoy.  Shipman has also invited many people in the health care profession to view the exhibit in hopes that the concept of Maggie’s Centres will seep into Canadian health care.

The exhibit runs from March 2 to April 12, Tuesdays through Sundays, and is free to the public.