Leading architect reveals vision for city’s Maggie’s Centre

Richard Murphy. Picture: TSPL
Richard Murphy. Picture: TSPL
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THE award-winning architect behind a much-needed extension to the Edinburgh Maggie’s Centre has spoken of his desire to design a space “through the eyes of the patient”.

Tens of thousands of pounds have already been raised after the Evening News teamed up with 47-year-old Lisa Stephenson to help fund the £1.2 million extension.

Now city architect Richard Murphy – the brains behind the original Maggie’s building back in the 1990s – has outlined his vision for the new wing as the money continues to pour in.

The extension will comprise three new rooms, more seating space in the kitchen and landscaping work on the centre’s existing garden area.

Richard, 61, said it was vital that the new space felt “non-institutional” and kept up the existing Maggie’s atmosphere of making patients feel at home from the moment they arrive.

He said: “It’s almost like an anti-hospital – no corridors, no signage, no feeling of walking into an institution at all.

“It’s trying to get inside the other person’s head, trying to find out what matters to them.

“I think often when hospitals are built everyone’s on the committee except the patient or the patient’s family.

“The great thing about the Maggie’s centre is it’s very much designed through the eyes of the patient and I think that’s terribly important, that’s what we try and do.”

Other medical buildings designed by Richard’s firm include the Acute Mental Health Facility at Belfast’s City Hospital and a music therapy room at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

His work on Maggie’s – which can be found next to the Western General Hospital – saw the centre transformed from a previous stable building to the facility we see today.

Richard added: “In all the health buildings we have been involved in, at the end of the day I feel I’m unofficially representing the patient.

“In a large hospital people get very apprehensive about a whole bunch of stuff.

“You want to make them feel very quickly that they are in a nice place.

“It’s trying to deal with people’s emotional and mental state rather than just a physical thing.

“That goes back to why Maggie set up the centre because she felt the hospital was just dealing with the medical cause.”

The centre plays host to a range of different activities – with everything from counselling to beauty therapy on offer – and is meant to feel like a home from home for patients.

It is hoped the extension will enable an extra 5000 patients a year to use the centre.

“The idea is it’s closest to someone’s house,” Richard explained. “That’s always why we made the kitchen very dominant and other architects have picked up on that.

“I don’t want it to feel radically different to what we have done – we don’t want it to feel like you are in an extension.”

So far the appeal, which launched on November 7, has already brought in nearly £40,000, with individual donations ranging in size from £5 all the way up to £500.

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk