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View: Grid List
BREEAM: Excellent
Johnny Winter
Schofield Lothian, Turner & Townsend, Campbell Reith, KJ Tait, Speirs and Major, Sarah Price, Mansell
RIBA Sustainability Award (2014) RIBA Regional Award (2014) RICS North East Renaissance Awards - Design Through Innovation (2014) Newcastle Lord Mayor’s Design Awards - Landscape - Commended (2013) Newcastle Lord Mayor’s Design Awards - Small Scale Winner (2013) Newcastle Lord Mayor’s Design Awards - Special Award (2013) Building Better Healthcare Special Award - Patient’s Choice (2013)
BD online (2019) Architects’ Journal (2019) BBC Future (2017) The Architecture of Hope (2015) Architects’ Journal (2013) Blueprint (2013) Building Design (2013) The Observer (2013) Guardian (2013) Architecture Today (2013)

Maggie’s Newcastle provides social, emotional and practical support to people with cancer, their families and friends in a calm environment surrounded by nature.

Maggie's Newcastle

Maggie’s Newcastle began with an invitation from Charles Jencks to Ted Cullinan to design a Maggie’s Centre for the North East.

The much needed Maggie’s Newcastle opened in May 2013. It sits in the grounds of the Freeman Hospital, surrounded by trees and plants – copper beeches, cherry blossom, crocuses, wild flowers and herbs – that change with the seasons.

It is here that people with cancer and their families come to find support and comfort. There is nothing institutional about Maggie’s. Materials such as timber and clay tiles are warm and tactile. Calm, light-filled internal spaces – some communal, some private – open out onto a sheltered, landscaped courtyard.

Like all Maggie’s Centres, the kitchen table is its heart. Here people can gather over a cup of tea, chat to each other or seek advice from the professional staff always on hand.

"There is a tangible feeling of joy the second you walk through the door, and the way the building draws you in and towards the beautiful kitchen space – the heart of all our Maggie’s Centres – is extraordinary."

Laura Lee, chief executive officer, Maggie’s


How creativity with the landscape brings shelter, warmth and joy to Maggie's Newcastle

Maggie’s Newcastle was conceived as emerging from the ground – so the earth becomes part of the construction. The earth contains the ground floor of the building. The concrete frame and footings combine to resist the inward thrust of the battered banks and support the roof – which in turn provides a container for the earth from which the new garden grows.

These two elements – earth retaining and earth containing – are designed as two separate structural systems. The base is formed from a 300mm thick reinforced concrete frame, with infill concrete walls cast flush with the frame and left internally with a smooth finish.

Above the insulated concrete roof, a series of interlocked precast trays form the upper level perimeter. The separate roof structure enables the continuous insulating wrapping of the envelope and provides an additional protective layer between roots and waterproofing membrane.

"It's inspiring to see so many people coming in to find the support they need. There have been lots of young men which shows the building is working in the way it was designed to do. The Centre has a wonderful atmosphere and having a Maggie's in Newcastle has just been such a positive experience for me."

Maggie's Newcastle Visitor


In what was a non-descript hospital car park, there is now an elegant, intriguing building nestled into the natural environment.

A new landscape, responding to the changing light, trees and plants of each season, has been created. Maggie’s is surrounded by earth mounds that form a south-facing courtyard planted with wild flowers and herbs – which visitors can enjoy while feeling protected and enclosed.

A roof garden – with a bowling green and fixed exercise equipment – is reached from within the building or by steps from the grassy bank. A clipped beech hedge provides privacy.

The building is arranged around an L-shaped plan. The two wings of accommodation meet at a double-height library. A staircase – doubling as bookshelves – leads up to a mezzanine level with access to the roof.

Maggie's Newcastle


Six thousand people visited Maggie’s Newcastle within five months of opening – unprecedented in Maggie’s history. Much of its success is down to extensive consultation with the community during the early design.

Consultation with heads of Maggie’s Centres already opened told us what worked well and where improvements could be made, in particular in making the centres welcoming and accessible for all cancer patients.

Ted Cullinan responded particularly to the fact that men had made up a smaller percentage of visitors to other Maggie’s Centres – so encouraging them to feel included became an important part of the brief. The design of Maggie’s Newcastle – including robust materials such as concrete, steel and oak, and gym equipment on the roof – appears to have been successful: more men have visited Maggie’s Newcastle than any other Maggie’s.

Maggie’s Newcastle would not have got off the ground without public support. Maggie’s is a registered charity, relying on fundraising events and contributions. Cullinan Studio has played its part. We provided models and drawings for fundraising events, and we also joined thousands of others in the annual Maggie’s Culture Crawl – or Maggie’s Night Hike. Thanks go to all our sponsors.

The Cullinan Studio Maggie's Culture Crawl team


The design of Maggie’s Newcastle responds well to the vagaries of the North East’s climate. A comfortable environment all year round has been achieved with low energy.

Sunlight absorbed by the roof is transformed into energy. The orientation of the building maximises winter heat from the low sun. This is soaked up into the heavy concrete mass and kept within the building by the thick insulation and the earth mounds surrounding the building. This reduces demand for heating, while maintaining a constant and comfortable level of heating throughout the day.

In summer, the high thermal mass reduces temperature swings, and windows open for night time cooling. The building is naturally ventilated and windows can be opened manually – so it is easy and simple for people to control their environment.