Maggies Cheltenham

"A metaphorical landscape of hope designed to calm, soothe and inspire with the empowering beauty of nature".

Maggie’s Centres are the legacy of Maggie Keswick Jencks who died of cancer in 1995. Maggie’s experience as a patient led her to develop the idea of an “uninstitutional home-from-home centre that would encourage and not intimidate”. Today there are 17 centres built in the UK and abroad (designed by by internationally recognised architects) and running to provide emotional and practical advice for cancer sufferers, their carers and families/friends.

In 2007 we were approached by Maggie’s to design landscaped areas around a new centre being planned in Cheltenham alongside the architect of the centre, Sir Richard MacCormac, past President of RIBA.

With the knowledge that stimulating landscapes create a ‘healing environment’ in that patients feels less stress and a greater sense of well being, the brief from Maggie’s was clear: to create spaces that encourage a positive mind. These spaces need to be visually exciting and of a practical design.

Set in its urban environment, Maggie’s Cheltenham required a landscape that provided a tranquil ambience. Inspiration for the design comes from the mathematical tilted S-shaped Sigmoid Curve – referred to by Charles Handy, the business philosopher, as a visual metaphor for life and living. This motif is used extensively throughout the landscape from the gentle waves of the S-shaped grassed moundettes; the sinuous curving path; to an eye-catching sigmoid steel water sculpture by Bill Pye providing the essential ‘sound’ of a restorative garden. Smaller areas surrounding the centre such as the Courtyard Garden are planted with scented and colourful perennials, shrubs and climbers.

Featured in the Architecture of Hope I (2010) by Charles Jencks and Edwin Heathcote, and Architecture of Hope II (2015) ed Charles Jencks