Architecture People & Places


Maggie's Centre Gartnavel wins 2012 Doolan Prize

Maggie's Centre Gartnavel, designed by OMA, received the 2012 Andrew Doolan Prize. Photo: Philippe Ruault
Glasgow, Scotland's new Maggie's Centre Gartnavel – like its sister projects – sets out to provide space where people can feel welcome, at home and cared for: a haven. The architects – the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) – has sited the building on a slight rise, but cut it into the slope so that on two sides it looks at banked landscape.

The building received the 2012 Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award, given by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
Overview of Maggie's Centre Gartnavel. Photo: Charlie Koolhaas

Although the building is located on the Gartnavel General Hospital campus, and was built on the site of a former parking lot, it feels more like a large cabin in the woods. Thanks to careful new landscaping and an adjacent stand of mature trees, the building will be increasingly buffered from its urban surroundings.
The entry of Maggie's Centre Gartnavel. Philippe Ruault

The entrance space reveals that the one-story building is a doughnut with fully-glazed internal walls looking into a grassy central courtyard. One is simultaneously aware of a series of interlocking rectangular spaces that lead away in a jagged circle, giving a sense of permeability and promenade while avoiding the trap of the traditional hospital corridor. A pleasingly alternating rhythm of solid and void is also present in the array of spaces around the courtyard, offering occasional views outward while maintaining a serene central focus.

A skylit seating area at Maggie's Centre Gartnavel. Photo: Philippe Ruault

There are a number of spaces for personal privacy and interaction, discrete counselling rooms or private nooks and corners, some of which have involved local artist/artisan design and fabrication. There is also a surprisingly rich variety of materials and skills on display here, with a particularly pleasing flush inlaid wood  and concrete ceiling.

Although the plan seems haphazard, even chaotic, this is a masterful composition of highly-efficient spaces. The building succeeds in the central aim of all Maggie's Centres: to create an environment of practical and emotional support for people with cancer.
Circulation inside the doughnut-shaped Maggie's Centre moves along a central garden space. Photo: Charlie Koolhaas

Maggie's Centre Gartnavel supports the nearby Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, the second largest oncology centre in the United Kingdom.

The full judges citation for the winning project reads:
"This is an extraordinary building – a place of calm, simultaneously welcoming and open. Maggie's Centres provide support for people with cancer, their families and friends. Exceptional architecture and innovative spaces make people feel better. This single-level building, a ring of interlocking rooms, is close to the Beatson Cancer Centre. The spaces feel casual but allow for privacy. The approach is about modest external expression, embracing a courtyard garden to generate a unique place of gentle contemplation and an exemplary caring environment."
The panel of judges was chaired by Professor Andy MacMillan OBE FRIAS and included Ian Gilzean FRIAS, of the Scottish Government's Architecture and Place Division; Kerr Robertson FRIAS, of Glasgow City Council; and Daphne Thissen Hon FRIAS, Cultural Attache, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Floor-to-ceiling sliding glazed panels separate rooms inside the Maggie's Centre Gartnavel. Photo: Charlie Koolhaas

The panel looked for projects which showed innovation and design excellence, irrespective of size or type. Other key considerations were: detailing, accessibility, environmental issues and technical skill. From the seventy one entries for the 2012 RIAS Awards fourteen were shortlisted for the Doolan prize.

Maggie's Centre Gartnavel seen from the landscaped southern area. Photo: Philippe Ruault

Past Doolan Prize winners include the Small Animal Hospital, at the University of Glasgow.

Maggie's Centre Gartnavel was also shortlisted for the 2012 Stirling Prize, which was ultimately awarded to the Sainsbury Laboratory by Stanton Williams Architects.
Project Credits 
  • Architect: OMA
  • Client: Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Centres Trust
  • Structural engineer: Sinclair Knight Merz
  • Services engineer: KJ Tait engineers
  • Landscape: Lily Jencks with Harrison Stevens
  • Contractor: Dunne
  • Contract value: Confidential
  • Date of completion: October 2011

Reflective surfaces give the impression of larger spaces. Photo: Philippe Ruault

Photo: Philippe Ruault

Photo: Philippe Ruault

Photo: Philippe Ruault

Photo: Charlie Koolhaas

Photo: Charlie Koolhaas

Photo: Philippe Ruault

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