Maverick Rem Koolhaas Will Now Blow Your Mind By Building… A Healing Center!?

Koolhaas’s OMA creates a gentle cancer-treatment facility on hospital grounds. Yeah, THAT Koolhaas!

The U.K. is home to a network of buildings designed to help heal people suffering from cancer. Earlier this week the newest Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre opened in Glasgow. Designed by Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architechture (OMA), it’s a quiet space for recovery nestled in the grounds of a larger hospital facility.


Wait. Quiet? Koolhaas? The same Kolhaas who built a giant pair of shorts in China and managed to piss off every preservationist this side of a bulldozer when he proposed UNESCO mount a “Convention Concerning the Demolition of World Cultural Junk”?

The same Koolhaas, indeed. Here’s the thing: Koolhaas has always been great at turning provocative concepts into brick and mortar. Maggie’s in Glasgow is no exception. The basic idea: The more casual and homey the treatment environment, the better people will feel.

So instead of the usual labyrinth of corridors and isolated rooms you see in health care centers, it features a series of glass-enclosed public and private spaces that ring a central courtyard. The interlocking spaces contain a shared living room, library, kitchen, and dining area with private counseling rooms. Many of the rooms have sliding doors with access to the outdoors or face out onto the courtyard; Lily Jencks, the daughter of the center’s namesake, Maggie Keswick Jencks (who died of cancer), designed the courtyard. The whole place is carefully curated to provide a less clinical experience not just for patients but also for their friends and family. “I think it should be a building where the space and the quality of the space and environment are the most important thing,” says OMA partner-in-charge Ellen Van Loon.

Other heavy-hitters in the architecture world to design Maggie’s centers include Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, and Frank Gehry. Three new centers will open this year, including a center in Oxford designed by Wilkinson Eyre.

[Images courtesy of OMA]