THE ARCHITECTURE OF HOPE focuses on an exciting building project that has been underway since the mid-1990s - new cancer caring centres that offer a fresh approach to both architecture and health. Named after Maggie Keswick and co-founded with her husband, the writer and landscape designer Charles Jencks, these centres aim to be situated at all the major British hospitals that treat cancer. Already six have been completed and six more are in the pipeline. Starting in Scotland, where the first were built, they have implications well beyond their modest size and origins. Complementary to NHS hospitals, they present a face that is welcoming, risk-taking, aesthetic and life-affirming; and with their commitment to the other arts, including landscape, they bring in the full panoply of constructive means. Maggie's Centres are a new mixed building type for healing that have different roots in the past. As Jencks and Heathcote show, this hybrid quality is a response to the condition of cancer; its myriad causes and bewildering number of possible therapies.
The 'architecture of hope' is this new emergent hybrid genre, consisting of various metaphors that correspond in kind to the many different types of cancer and their various treatments. The Centres have been designed by well known architects Richard Murphy, Page and Park, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers. Further projects underway include buildings by Richard MacCormac, the late Kisho Kurokawa, Piers Gough, Wilkinson Eyre and Rem Koolhaas. The centres are committed first to helping cancer sufferers help themselves, to inspiring carers to care more, and secondly to architecture. It is the arts and building, important allies in the perennial struggle with cancer, that lead to the 'architecture of hope'. As people walk into a centre after a diagnosis, or enervating treatment, often disoriented and lacking in self-confidence, they enter another world which acknowledges their importance and a basic condition that may become prevalent: living with cancer and not losing hope.
Charles Jencks is the author of several best-selling books on architecture. He divides his time between lecturing, writing and designing in the USA, in the UK and in Europe. To visit Charles Jencks' website click here