AL_A has completed a Maggie’s cancer support centre at Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire. The single-storey building occupies part of a former car park and provides support for the specialist oncology unit.
Conceived as a woodland oasis set in the grounds of the hospital’s suburban campus, almost three quarters of the site is given over to four distinct gardens that reflect the ecology of the nearby New Forest.
“We have imagined that a piece of garden has been transported from the forest into the midst of the hospital’s car park, bringing serenity and a bit of magic to the place,” says practice principal Amanda Levete.
The gardens are bisected by four walls that radiate out from the centre of the plan. As in all Maggie’s centres, the kitchen table sits at the heart of the building, with a skylight above bringing daylight and sky views into the space.
Ground-floor plan; section
The private areas, including consulting rooms and quiet spaces, open onto the gardens via full-height, glazed sliding doors. These disappear into pockets in the walls, blurring the boundary between landscape and building.
The ‘blade’ walls, which extend outside the building enclosure, are constructed from reinforced ceramic blocks. The earthiness of the clay-coloured blocks is intended to roof the structure to the ground.
Clad with mottled stainless steel panels, the corners of the building reflect of the surrounding landscape, placing the garden front and centre.
“There’s no doubt that looking at ‘nature’ has a positive impact on how we feel,” says landscape designer Sarah Price. “The landscape is inspired by the New Forest and draws its healing power from the rich diversity of the local flora: wood anemones, orchids, wild garlic, lesser celandines, bluebells and primroses, mosses and ferns, growing in the woodland pathways.”