One of Europe’s largest cancer hospitals, the St James’s Institute of Oncology, opened in Leeds in 2007. Maggie’s, an organization which provides free support for people living with cancer, invited the studio to design a new center within the hospital campus. Although this is one of the largest centers to be built, the brief was to create a space that feels informal and domestic.
At the same time as being a quiet domestic space for its users on the inside, there was an opportunity for the building’s exterior to offer something positive and hopeful to people passing by.
Surrounded by clinical hospital buildings, we wanted to capture the positive and therapeutic experience of plants and see if it could be possible to make a whole building out of a garden. We wondered if we could make a building from containers, each holding a piece of garden. The design formed itself as a collection of garden pots defining a building by enclosing a series of spaces between them.
The individual pots and planting are of differing proportions bringing the planting into and over the building itself. The most private spaces are created within the containers themselves. Between them are only the minimum flat sheets of glass necessary to weather protect and enclose the internal space.
Architects: Heatherwick studio
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
Group Leader: Mat Cash
Project Leader: Rebeca Ramos
Team: Peter Ayres, Mark Bagguely, Michael Chomette, Matthew Gilbert, Neil Hubbard, Sayaka Namba, Juan Oyarbide, Enrique Pujana, Wendy Smith, Ruth Vatcher
Makers: Einar Blixhavn, Erich Breuer, Darragh Casey, Ben Dudek, Alex Flood, Hayley Henry, Hannah Parker, Monika Patel, Luke Plumbley, Ahira Sanjeet, Antoine van Erp
Type: Medical Center