Maggie’s is familiar to many due to its architectural merit. The Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners designed building won the RIBA Stirling prize in 2009 (the design fee and prize money were donated to the Centre). The centre brightens up the front corner of Charing Cross Hospital, its orange walls clearly visible from busy Fulham Palace Road.
A landscaped path takes you from the hospital gates and the hubbub of the road to Maggie’s. There are no institutional signs ahead just bright walls, a large window with greenery behind it and the airily suspended roof. Entering Maggie’s is easy. The building enfolds you, leading you to the door and before you have time to wonder where the reception is, smiling faces greet you and offer you some tea.
Maggie’s is the antithesis of hospital. Warm, colourful, tranquil and friendly its heart is a large informal kitchen table. Various spaces lead off the kitchen, private areas for quiet reflection, easy chairs for one on ones, communal space for hanging out and chatting. There’s a library, computers and lots of information should you want it. Help yourself to herbal tea, biscuits and fruit. A benefits adviser, a chartered psychologist and cancer support specialists are on hand if you want to see them and there are group sessions you can sign up to but you’re equally welcome just to sit and think or chat to others about anything.
Maggie Keswick Jencks, the founder of Maggie’s Centres, said “Above all what matters is not to lose the joy of living in the fear of dying”. Maggie’s feels full of life, a caring and supportive environment. It is truly a safe haven whether you’re a patient, family member or friend dealing with cancer. On Night Hike night, footsore and weary, we can imagine Maggie’s will look like a magical beacon at 3am, lit up and welcoming, ready to refuel and rest us and guaranteed to send us to the finish line thoroughly inspired and more determined than ever.
Please sponsor the Londonist teams on the Night Hike. You can donate quickly and easily via our JustGiving page and all money raised goes directly to support existing Maggie’s Centres in the UK. Thank you.
PS Architecture buffs: Win lunch at the River Cafe with one of the Rogers Stirk Harbour architects who designed Maggie’s London and a visit to their practice.
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