Olympic effort for £5 million Leeds cancer centre

Thomas Heatherwick.
Thomas Heatherwick.
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A WORLD-leading designer is bringing a hi-tech £5m cancer support centre to Leeds, the Yorkshire Evening Post can reveal.

Charity Maggie’s is creating the brand new facility next to St James’s Hospital – with the architect of the London 2012 Olympic cauldron masterminding the blueprint for the building.

The new Maggie’s centre will provide emotional and practical help for anyone affected by cancer in a calming and non-medical environment.

Charity bosses said great architecture was vital to their services, and designer Thomas Heatherwick said he was “honoured” to be involved.

In a major coup for the city, Heatherwick Studio is designing the new £5m Maggie’s centre set to be built at St James’s Hospital.

The firm, founded by Thomas Heatherwick, was behind the London 2012 Olympic cauldron, which wowed millions worldwide when it was unveiled at the opening ceremony of the Games.

Now the studio, known for its experimental work, is teaming up with the Maggie’s charity, which runs cancer support centres in innovative buildings at hospitals across the country.

The Leeds facility – its first in Yorkshire – is due to open in 2017.

Laura Lee, chief executive of Maggie’s, said: “We are delighted that Heatherwick Studio is designing the new Maggie’s Centre in Yorkshire.

“Great architecture is vital to the care that Maggie’s offers and the studio is renowned for its inventive approach to design and its ability to truly get the best out of a space.

“This will be our first centre in Yorkshire and we look forward to providing the vital help and support needed to people living with cancer in the region.”

Cancer patients and their families and friends will be provided with free practical and emotional support from the new Maggie’s centre.

The charity aims to provide a warm and welcoming haven during some of the most difficult times of people’s lives, and providing these services in an unusual, but functional, building is crucial to the organisation’s vision.

It’s also important for them to operate close to hospitals, and the new Maggie’s Yorkshire centre will be built adjacent to the Bexley Wing at St James’s, a world-leading cancer care facility.

Ms Lee said that as the site will be among multi-storey buildings, high levels of ingenuity were required to create the calm, uplifting environment so important to Maggie’s centres.

She said Thomas Heatherwick, who was awarded a CBE for services to the design industry last year, was ideal to take on that challenge in Leeds.

And the architect said he was very pleased to be involved.

“We are honoured to be working with the Maggie’s team on a new centre,” Mr Heatherwick said.

“Our role is to make a special place that will support and encourage people affected by cancer and inspire the staff that work with them.”

The design of the new building will be exclusively revealed in the Yorkshire Evening Post later this year, thanks to a new partnership between the newspaper and Maggie’s.

Nicola Furbisher, managing editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, said: “It is so exciting to have one of the leading designers in the world bring his innovative work to Leeds – and in the shape of such an important building.

“The city’s new Maggie’s centre will make a real difference to the lives of cancer patients throughout the area and beyond, and the Yorkshire Evening Post is thrilled to be involved in its development.”

Earlier this year, directors at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs St James’s Hospital – gave the go-ahead to the new centre.

The charity will meet all construction, maintenance and running costs for the facility and will be granted a lease for the site for a peppercorn rent.

Linda Pollard, chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said: “We are proud to have one of the most modern and well equipped cancer hospitals in the world here in Leeds.

“It is therefore fitting that an internationally-renowned designer will be working on our site to develop our own Maggie’s Centre in Yorkshire, which will complement the excellent care our staff already provide.

“This is a tremendously exciting opportunity and we are looking forward to working with the charity to make this fantastic project a reality.

“The philosophy behind the Maggie’s Centre fits perfectly with the holistic care and support we aim to provide for cancer patients from across Yorkshire, and it will be a wonderful and uplifting resource for them.”

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