Wood creates empathy

Maggie's Oldham in Oldham, UK by dRMM

Building for cancer patients requires careful thought. Apparently small features can be important, such as using wooden door handles instead of metal to ease the pain in fingers that are hurting from chemotherapy. Or ensuring that radiotherapy patients have the right light level and colour of light for their sensitive skin, and indeed for their state of mind. How does the patient feel about a room, what view is needed to provide encouragement?

When DRMM, led by Professor Alex de Rijke, created the latest in a long line of Maggie’s Centres in Oldham outside Manchester, these were just a few of the questions that required particular attention. The decision to use wood came partly from the firm’s history of building in CLT. The UK’s first public CLT building, Kingsdale School in London, was designed by DRMM. They have continued in this vein ever since, and have worked with Arup and Züblin to develop CLT made from hardwood, specifically tulip wood. Another reason for building in wood was that it exudes hope, humanity and warmth, as well as storing carbon dioxide.

The result is a low building on one level, raised on stilts to create a sheltered entrance and a shady garden. Inside, a large, gently irregular glazed opening in the centre lends character to the design. The hole allows a tree to grow out through the building as a reminder of life and a natural divider of the different functions on site. All the wood is tulip wood, including the façade with its milled, corrugated profile.

Read more at drmm.co.uk

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