Maggie’s Centre, Gehry’s first UK building

25 September sees the opening in Scotland in Dundee of Frank Gehry’s first building in the UK. For the Californian star of architecture it’s quite a modest project (a mere 1.3 million pounds; 1.8 million euro) thereby producing results of a somewhat different nature than usual, such as with the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Disney concert hall in Los Angeles.

Its strong point however is not so much (or not only) in the architecture but rather in the idea of the founder, Maggie Keswick Jencks, who died of cancer in 1995. Her aim, with the foundation created with her father (Maggie was the wife of Charles Jencks and member of the wealthy Jardine family responsible for building the city of Hong Kong) was to offer an alternative environment for care which would be more human for the patients: a bright place more like a home than a hospital where for example space could be given over to a kitchen or library.

Gehry’s hand can be seen in the shape of the building – where you’d be hard pressed to find a straight wall or a right angle – and especially in the wavy roof made from timber and stainless steel.

The Dundee centre is the third to open, following on from one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh, designed by Richard Murphy. Further projects are set to follow, in London designed by Richard Rogers, in Kirkcaldy by Zaha Hadid and Cambridge by Daniel Libeskind.

Maggie’s Centre, Dundee
Project sketches. Courtesy Frank Gehry
Project sketches. Courtesy Frank Gehry

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