Project: Maggie’s Wirral, The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre
Location: Clatterbridge Road, Wirral
Overall project value: £2m
Client: Maggie’s Centres Registered Charity
Principal contractor: The Steve Morgan Foundation
Powers involvement: August 2017
Project completion: December 2020
The Project Maggie’s Centre, Wirral
Maggie’s Centre is a Cancer Support Centre adjacent to the hospital facility at Clatterbridge. The hospital in Bebbington, Wirral is nationally-renowned for its cancer treatment and acknowledged expertise in this field. Maggie’s is a countrywide network of drop-in centres that offer advice and support for people going through challenging periods of illness or recovery.
The blueprint for Maggie’s Centres, is that they are created not as a luxury ‘add-on’, but because the spaces need to do so much for the people who use them. The company was co-founded by Maggie Keswick Jencks, who passed away from the illness in 1995, and her husband Charles Jencks, the renowned architectural historian and landscape designer. They understood the impact that environment and design can have on someone dealing with cancer. The effects of the disease are not just on the people themselves, but on their families, friends and those who care for them. The idea has been developed into a network of beautifully-designed centres across the UK.
At Maggie’s Centres, staff offer cancer support and free one-to-one help and information, or visitors can join groups and activities that are right for them. It’s a calming space, where over a cup of tea, people affected by cancer can discuss and understand what they’re going through, or simply take a moment to gather their thoughts. On 5 February 2018 it was announced that two new Maggie’s Centres at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Wirral and the Royal Liverpool Hospital in the City Centre would be built, as part of a joint project with the Steve Morgan Foundation.
Land surveyor Powers was engaged on behalf of the Steve Morgan Foundation, to carry out topographical surveys of the site, prior to development. The work was carried out free of charge, as a skills donation to the charity. The new centre, designed by HB Architects, based in Rugby, Warwickshire, replaced a temporary facility that was operating at the site.
It was important to understand the topography of the site to fully take advantage of the magnificent panoramic views over Wirral farmland. The designers needed to know precise details of the landscape and existing layout they were dealing with. This enabled them to design the building, to get the most out of the views and natural features in the vicinity. Powers returned to site again, once the site clearance work had been completed to resurvey the area to inform the final designs. The founders of Maggie’s Centres identified the need for thoughtful lighting, a view out to trees, birds and sky, and the opportunity to relax and talk, away from home cares and day-to-day challenges. This was fundamental to the building’s design and the survey outlined where the most value could be gained from the design and setting.
The main challenges were the space constraints at the site, which sees a lot of foot and vehicular traffic on a daily basis. The survey itself was relatively straightforward, but the proposed building was near a car park, so space was at a premium.
The new Maggie’s Wirral Centre opened its doors in 2021. The impressive two-storey building has been designed to incorporate counselling and sitting areas, a library, kitchen and office, WCs, a feature staircase and areas for group and exercise sessions. Through the innovative use of glass, space and timber, the design has created a place of rest and calm, with views onto the surrounding countryside and landscaped garden and patio seating area.
Jonathan Masters, Trustee of the Steve Morgan Foundation, said: “This was an incredibly important project for The Steve Morgan Foundation and ultimately for the people the centre will support. Creating the right environment at such a difficult juncture for these visitors is vital, and understanding the site was an important part in achieving this. We really appreciate the support and pro bono services provided by Powers.”