Highly Commended

Maggie's Windermere
Kirsten Adjei-Attah,
Coventry University

Maggie’s Windermere is a conceptual cancer support centre based in a picturesque location at the heart of the Lake District. A Maggie's Centre is a place that offers 'practical, emotional and social' support to people living with cancer and all friends and family affected by the disease. The charity has a unique approach to providing support to strengthen everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing with staff and qualified experts to offer the support people need. It is a place to meet others or simply have a cup of tea. Maggie’s Windermere is a safe haven designed for everyone to feel comfortable and cared for whatever their emotions may be. The design intent is to provide a place that instils magic into their lives.

The concept was heavily influenced on therapeutic elements for cancer patients such as exposure to nature. The concept was for all visitors and staff to experience a light space with beautiful garden views from all points of the building. Having a connection with nature was a core aspect to this project, gardening, moving water and views of nature gives people peace of mind which aids the healing process which cannot be experienced in a clinical and uninspiring hospital. A building with three interconnected spaces in a stepped layout would be the most effective proposal in defining spaces for communal and private use with easy access to services e.g. accessible WCs. Tulipwood cross laminated timber was showcased for construction due to its thermal, fire, acoustic and environmental properties which are essential for creating a comfortable and healthy environment for people living with cancer.

The building materials incorporated have been selected in mind of the physical side effects of treatment a patient experiences, such as specifying timber handrails and having an exposed thermo-treated Tulipwood CLT interior to accommodate a patient’s sensitivity to touch and using robust and non-toxic materials. The structural double layer visible CLT wall panels were detailed to contain significantly thick insulation in comparison to the usual brickwork-cavity-blockwork construction, sufficient for domestic projects. Woodfibre insulation was specified to encourage a healthier indoor environment. It uses healthy ‘breathable’ fibres in comparison to standard insulation which contain toxins.

Inclusive design was incredibly crucial for Maggie’s Windermere. Three access routes have been provided (two stairs and one ramp) to ensure users of the building will enter and leave safely with a predominantly open plan floor plan. The building zones have been specifically designed to have their own distinct environments specifying different ‘non-slip’ floor textures such as distressed timber, slate and resin flooring. This eases way finding for the users with visual impairment and physical disabilities enable them to identify their location in the building which can been detected on foot or when manoeuvring around on a wheelchair along with staff support. Overall, the design and detailing of Maggie’s Windermere is simple and sustainable to create a healthy environment, with the integration of architectural technology used to inspire and bring comfort to those in need.


 Judges' comments

The warm and sensitive design response and sympathetic technical resolution has produced a building of great merit. The design solution demonstrates a deep empathy and understanding of the brief, exemplifying the social impact of Architectural Technology. The overall design creates an environment with comforting qualities that addresses the physical and mental well-being ambitions with apparent simplicity. The judges concluded that the key criteria across the spectrum of planning, design, environment, construction and assembly, performance and use was clearly evidenced within this design project and the thread of Architectural Technology was a strong theme throughout this work.