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The first cross-laminated hardwood building in the world, Maggie’s Centre in Oldham represents a new direction for cancer care that’s more home than hospital.

For over two decades, Maggie’s Centres across the UK and abroad have been providing free practical and emotional support to people living with cancer as well as their family and friends. Far from a sterile, clinical hospital environment, with sunless rooms full of steel and plastic furniture, Maggie’s Oldham is a community space that’s open concept – in more ways than one.

Alex de Rijke, founding director of dRMM Architects who led the team in the design of the centre, wanted to create a practical and emotional oasis for people living with cancer. The building is de Rijke’s physicalized response to a question often asked by cancer sufferers: ‘Why?’ As the evidence increasingly points to carcinogenic elements in our food, drink, air, and material components, de Rijke and the dRMM team attempt to address the relationship between the built environment and the causes of cancer.

Maggie’s Oldham utilizes cross-laminated hardwood, a material invented though dRMM’s work on Endless Stair in 2013. (Read the interview with de Rijke on the installation here.) Also constructed from American tulipwood with AHEC, the building represents a deliberate intervention of the aesthetic and functional norms in hospitals.

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