Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre, Edinburgh

Our project for the first Maggie's Centre was completed in 1996. An extension was commissioned five years after and completed in 2001. Maggie's Centre at the Western General Hospital is the inspiration of the late Maggie Jencks - her vision was for a place cancer sufferers could go to get help and solace as well as access to independent and alternative sources of advice and treatment. Activities range from single and group counselling, beauty therapy, yoga and relaxation but above all the centre is a social meeting place where experiences can be shared.

The brief was, to a degree, indeterminate, and developed through close liaison with the client. The design aimed to create firstly an atmosphere of domesticity (in contrast to the institutional nature of many National Health Service buildings) and secondly, to create as much accommodation as possible within the limited volume available and to make it transformable in its spatial division; the centre is capable of being combined into a series of progressively larger spaces or divided into individual rooms.

Externally the construction is viewed as a building within a building with a new inner language of steel, lead, glass, glass blocks and timber sliding behind stone. When the extension was commissioned this existing language was extracted in both directions to continue the language.

Since it opened in November 1997 Maggie's Centre attracted a large number of visitors and friends and the range of activities available widened considerably. During that time the need had become apparent for a series of meeting rooms for larger groups or more strenuous activities.

The additional accommodation required two large meeting rooms, a consulting room for visiting therapists and a permanent office. While the new extension doubles the floor area of the centre, it is designed to preserve a domestic scale. All the activities of the new area are visible from the original centre space, which still functions as the front door to the centre.

The extension is in two independent directions to the west and to the north east. The western extension is two storey with administration on the top floor and additional consulting room on the lower floor. The extension to the north east is conceived as an independent but linked building to the original. This is a single volume which can be divided unequally and extends with a rendered retaining wall along its northern boundary to form a terrace on the eastern side and a boundary to the garden on the western side. Again, the materials are the same as the other extension with a lead roof, steel framing and Douglas Fir framed windows. The monopitch roof is designed to admit south light into north facing rooms whilst its sinusoidal form deliberately avoids any conversation with the roof pitch of the existing building.

Details of the proposed extension can be seen at the end of the thumbnail images.

Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres website can be found at

Other Details

Architects Richard Murphy, Ed Hollis, Oliver Chapman
Engineers David Narro Associates
Contractor Peter Walker
Colour Consultant Linda Green, Studio Green
Architects Richard Murphy, Matt Bremner, Ian Strakis, Claire Gaffney, Keith Ross
Engineers David Narro Associates
Quantity Surveyor Ross & Morton
Colour Consultant Linda Green, Studio Green
Contractor Reywood Construction
Construction Cost <£345,000 (Total)
Client Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Care Trust


1996 EAA Conservation Award
1997 RIBA / Department of Health National Award
1997 RIBA Stirling Shortlist
1997 RIBA Award


30 Apr 2010 Cutting-edge New Look For Cancer Care At Maggie's
30 Apr 2010 An Architectural Design For Life - Architecture
March 2010 Big Hug For The Wonderful Maggie's
Mar 2008 Maggies' Friends The Herald Magazine
March 2008 Why Are The World's Best Architects Drawn To Maggie's Centres? The Herald Magazine
Nov 2006 Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre, Fife - Does It Live Up To Expectations? Architecture Today Number 173
Sept 2001 Handled With Care - A J Building Study Architects' Journal
April / May 2001 The Gehry Effect Livewire
Feb 2001 Somewhere To Come Home To, Building Health Building Design
July 1999 Building Humanity Back Into Hospitals The Scotsman
Sept 1999 A Vision Of The Future Evening News
Dec 1998 Building Bravery - My Favourite Building Prospect Magazine
Nov 1998 Maggies Centre Lancet City Wins Top Award - Ccc Evening News
May 1998 Maggies Centre South East Asia Building
April 1998 Maggies Centre Scottish Fields
Dec 1997 Healthy Building Syndrome Scotland On Sunday
6 Nov 1997 Stirling Prize Architects' Journal
6 Nov 1997 Murphy Carries Scottish Hopes - Stirling Prize Project Scotland
2 Nov 1997 Design & Conquer - Stirling Prize Sunday Times
Nov 1997 Stirling Short List Building Design
9 Oct 1997 Four In Race For Top Prize Project Scotland
Sept 1997 Patients Support Centre In Edinburgh Detail Magazine
Mar 1997 Comfortable Surroundings Prospect
Mar 1997 Murphy's Centre For Cancer Care Architects' Journal
Mar 1997 Dealing With Cancer In A Relaxed Way Sunday Times
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