Our projects

A truly extraordinary building for Maggie's Yorkshire

Built amongst a cluster of medical buildings at St James’ University Hospital in Leeds, Maggie’s Yorkshire is a cancer care centre like no other with its trio of interconnected timber pots and landscaped roofs.

Designed by Heatherwick Studio and built by Sir Robert McAlpine, Maggie’s Yorkshire is a truly extraordinary building, as complex in its construction as it is ingenious in conceit.

Set in what was the only green space left amongst a cluster of medical buildings at St James’ University Hospital, the centre is expressed as a grouping of three stepped planters, which act to raise up the gardens while providing a series of shared and private spaces below. The building’s interior is no less striking, rows of giant splayed glulam fins rising around you and seamlessly branching out overhead into an elegant and fluid canopy of a roof.

Project summary

    • Client: Maggie's
    • Sector: Healthcare
    • Value: £4.5m
    • Location: Yorkshire & Humber
    • Completion date: November 2019

Design challenge

Precise in every detail for a structure of some 460m², this building has encountered more challenges per square inch than most. From the curving millimetre-perfect internal lime render to the exposed aggregate concrete, the timber and micro cement flooring, and the heavily planted roof top gardens, delivering the architect’s vision and the quality demanded must have been no mean feat.

The architect was really passionate about delivering their design intent right down to the finest detail so the challenge was in achieving that without compromising the integrity of the building in terms of safety, structure, compliance and cost.

As well as managing the complex sequencing and interfaces between trades the project team went above and beyond coordinating the various supply chain partners involved in delivering the design.

Quality Driven

Whether it’s the challenge of achieving the seamless interfaces between the walls and the soffits, or the complex roof build-up required for the gardens, the project required a special level of engagement with our contractors.

The team took the time to get the right people on board, inviting them to visit site to understand what needed to be achieved, and then working closely with them to navigate the various constraints and deliver to the right standard. On occasion it took three months talking something through and then a couple of days installing it. The product had to be the absolute focus as well as getting people to buy into the quality. The complexity of a building like this also brought with it learning opportunities for those involved. There were instances where our contractors were doing things that they wouldn’t normally do in terms of the intricacy and detail. For example, singling out the amount of planting and the metres and metres of soil required on the timber spanning roof took hours of precision planning.

Manufacturing challenge

The building’s curved bullnoses, which help define its various levels, also proved extremely challenging. While the straight sections were sourced relatively easily, the corner sections, which curve both in section and on the horizontal plane, were more complex to manufacture. The team eventually sourced an artisan manufacturer who applied traditional techniques to bend and stretch the steel as required.


Glass and a half

Given the complex geometry of the building, ensuring all joints and corners were perfectly aligned when positioning the centre’s large, bespoke glazed panels was hugely challenging. Especially when this involved lifting some of the 0.75 tonne panels over the building and manoeuvring them into position on a slant and with only millimetres of clearance either side.


Complex in the ground

With the centre built on a steeply sloping site falling in two directions and bounded by roads and a multi-storey car park, formation of the reinforced concrete substructure was one of the first complexities faced by the team.

The operation required meticulous planning and extensive collaboration. Every stage of the process had to be carefully considered as the team retained the road running along the top of the site while a three metre by three metre permanent retaining wall was constructed. The raft slab is stepped to facilitate the change in ground level across the site.


Our Maggie's Centres

View more projects