The latest cancer care centre for cancer charity, Maggie’s has opened and is its first building constructed in CLT. It is designed by dRMM, a pioneer in using the material.
Words by Emily Martin
Client: Maggie’s Centres
Architect: dRMM Architects
Size: 260 sq m
Duration: September 2014 – June 2017
Cancer Charity Maggie’s has opened its first building made from hardwood cross-laminated timber (CLT), designed by dRMM Architects. Maggie’s Oldham was designed with support from the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and, while architecture and design play a central role at all Maggie’s Centres around the country, the Oldham centre has proved as a pivotal moment for contemporary architecture and construction.
The building is constructed from panels of five-layer, cross-laminated American tulipwood. American tulipwood CLT was pioneered in 2013 by dRMM, AHEC and Arup for strength, lightness, speed of construction and sustainability and its first public experiment was The Endless Stair, created during the London Design Festival 2013.
Besides being innovatively constructed using hardwood cross-laminated timber, the building’s design encourages calm and tranquility through the use of timber. Photo Credit: Jasmine Sohi
According to the Wood Housing Humanity Report 2015, wood has more health and wellbeing benefits, including reducing blood pressure and operation recovery times, than any other building material. And while tulipwood is one of the most sustainable timber species – thanks to the speed of replenishment, through natural growth alone – the engineered timber option became an obvious feature for the project.
‘From the inception of the Oldham project we knew it was the right material for Maggie’s, not only structurally and visually, but also conceptually,’ says Alex de Rijke, co-founder of dRMM. ‘An elevated, open-plan, all-timber and glass building – with trees growing through it, and every detail considered from the perspective of use, health, and delight – was always going to be special.’
The building is landscaped to feature nature both inside and out for holistic benefits. Photo Credit: Alex De Rijke
A curved-glass feature inside, in the centre of the building, brings in nature. The Maggie’s well-known kitchen table, at which visitors are encouraged to sit, is to a design by Barnby Day that was commissioned by Alex de Rijke and AHEC for the Wish List project for the 2014 London Design Festival and is built by Benchmark Furniture from recycled tulipwood CLT.
Maggie’s Oldham is an especially important development, showcasing a decade of structural timber innovation and one that can broaden the use of CLT in the construction industry. The creation of this product and significant use of hardwood will transform the way architects and engineers approach timber construction.
The building is landscaped to feature nature both inside and out for holistic benefits. Photo Credit: Jasmine Sohi
‘Maggie’s Oldham has a built-in, very visible holistic design message that supports the central aims of the design – to uplift and offer hope to people living with cancer,’ says de Rijke. ‘The environmental, structural and visual qualities are demonstrated explicitly at dRMM’s Maggie’s; a manifesto for wood as the natural choice for contemporary architecture of physical and psychological wellbeing.’
Carl Hansen & Son
Maruni Wood Industry Inc.
American Hardrwood Export Council