Located near the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, the second largest oncology centre in the UK, the new Maggie’s Centre Gartnavel will provide a space for practical and emotional support for people with cancer, their families and friends. The Maggie's Centres initiative, named after landscape designer and painter Maggie Keswick, who died of cancer in 1993, has grown from a one-off project to a growing UK-wide network of centres, many of them designed by renowned architects such as Richard Rogers, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas (not as surprising as it sounds, given that all of them were friends of Maggie’s and her husband’s; she was married to writer and landscape architect Charles Jencks). Before her death, Keswick came up with the idea of a cancer caring centre, which she worked on closely with her oncology nurse, Laura Lee. ‘The idea of living and dying as well as possible became a central part of our plans for the (first) centre and has remained at the heart of the organization that grew out of it,’ says Lee, who has since become CEO of the Maggie’s Centres Trust and who commissions architects for new centres. The brief she gives them is specific in terms of users’ needs, she says, but does not limit the architect creatively. That is why all the Maggie’s Centres buildings are different externally, while sharing many commonalities inside. ‘They are all very welcoming, have lots of natural light,’ she explains. At the heart of every centre is the warmest, most inviting of domestic spaces, a kitchen. ‘It is amazing how a boiling kettle and being asked how you take your tea can make people feel at ease and welcome.’ If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. Maggie's Centres are defined by light, openness (patients find no reception desk to report to), intimacy (they are domestic in scale), views and, in most cases, a proximity to nature: the polar opposite of a standard-issue hospital environment. As Lee says, ‘Maggie said a diagnosis of cancer is like being punched in the stomach, and that’s true. It knocks the air out of people, their family and friends. Our centres and our staff help them to come up for air.’ See Frame 78, due out 1 January, for a feature article on new healthcare facilties.